Tech barriers to small organizations

Small organizations face a range of barriers when it comes to meeting their technology needs. These are some of the issues we're aiming to address with Open Technology.

  • Gender issues. Staff at small nonprofits and coops are predominantly female while the tech sector remains male-dominated.
  • Age issues. People in leadership roles in nonprofits may be older workers for whom technology is not second nature.
  • Knowledge gaps. There are many options and staff and volunteers may lack the technology literacy to be able to make informed choices.
  • One-time fund-raising vs. ongoing funding. Groups may be funded to do one-time tech development but don't have the ongoing funding for a yearly technology budget.
  • Proprietary lock in. Around open source in general, people don't have the knowledge or resources it would take to switch to free software, so continue to pay for proprietary software.
  • Few support options. It may be easier, budget-wise, to purchase a product (software) that to access and purchase tech support. Groups end up contracting for development but don't get a lot of ongoing support. Companies that do development may not do on-going support.
  • Training gap. Organizations often end up with software that they don't fully understand and so can only scratch the surface of what's possible.
  • Repeated custom development. Different groups end up paying for the same thing over and over again for the small customizations they need.
  • Negotiating a complex web of service providers. Groups needing to access technology need a whole range of services to achieve a single goal. For example, if need a website need to find a company to develop it, a company to do domain registration, a company to host it, and often someone else to do ongoing maintenance.
  • Overcharging. Groups get overcharged (for naivety and other reasons) for web development. Don't have a way of assessing what a reasonable rate would be.
  • Upgrade burden. Groups that pay for custom development often don't understand the "technical debt" they're incurring for future upgrades that will be necessary to the customization.
  • Single-use tools. Groups will often end up with a patchwork of technical solutions - one website for a blog, another for fundraising, a third for events - leading to fragmentation and many maintenance challenges.
  • Frequent retooling. Technology is relatively short-lived, leaving groups looking for funding again and again and starting from scratch rather than finding tools that will serve their evolving needs and abilities.
  • Lack of neutral advice. Organizations often lack trusted partners in the tech process and rely for advice on commercial venders who offer limited options.