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Can Tech Tools Really Help Nonprofits? #nptech #changetheworld

17 Aug

As you know if you read or follow anything I do, technology for Social Good and Impact is my life’s passion.  Not for the technology itself per se, but because technology can help free up human time.  And people – those with human time – are awesome.  They are what keeps society going!  And if that human time can be spent on things only humans can do (this is the mission of my nonprofit, Free Tech for Nonprofits) – it creates more impact.  Things like comforting people or talking through challenging circumstances to see what the best path might be, or determining what resources are available to help with a trying time.

Technology is a tool and only a tool.  But its value is that it can also save wear-and-tear on already over-taxed nonprofit staff.  Technology can help sort documents, organize lists of donors and clients, create engagement with volunteers, reduce time and costs, and many other things.

If you want to learn more about how technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), can help your organization, please join my Wild Apricot national webinar, “8 Super Easy Tech Tools to Grow Your Membership and Motivate Your Volunteers,” on August 27, 2019, at 2pm EST.  (You can listen later if you can’t join in person.)

Some of the tools I will talk about are also highlighted in the GuideStar article here.  And you can also learn about other tools on Wild Apricot’s blogTechSoup is a great resource as well if you are exploring ideas.

All of the tools have one thing in common: they solve common challenges I have faced with my nonprofit clients – and at my own nonprofit, and working for a nonprofit – repeatedly during more than two decades in the space.  While you might feel like you are alone in having 100 things to do in a 90-thing day, rest assured that nonprofit professionals everywhere feel the same heavy weight.  We’re trying to change the world!  It’s hard.  But I hope at least, that together we can find simple, effective ways to ease the burden a bit, and be more effective and more efficient.  We can gain some time back, gain some sanity back, and keep fulfilling our dream of making the world a better place.  We can #ChangeTheWorld!

If you have technology tools you love, I would love to hear about them and share them.  Or if you are a technology provider and have free (a forever free version, not simply a free trial, please) technology, I welcome adding them to our resources.  Please leave your ideas in the comments.  Thank you!  And keep on changing the world!

My book has 500 ways to help #changetheworld including leveraging technology for Good, and many volunteering ideas for groups, individuals, and kids. If you have a group that would like copies to raise funds for an event, I give away a limited number per year of signed copies for free. Please contact me and we will see what we can do.  I appreciate you!

Please connect with me on Twitter @CharityIdeas, CharityIdeas on Pinterest, and Amy Neumann on LinkedIn.  Looking forward to talking with you!

Amy Neumann is a social good fanatic, striving world changer, and entrepreneur. Amy founded a start-up nonprofit called Free Tech for Nonprofits in 2017 and is CEO of the social enterprise consultancy Good Plus Tech, with a focus on emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence for social impact. In 2018 Amy published a Simon and Schuster book,Simple Acts to Change the World: 500 Ways to Make a Difference,as a tribute to social good, social justice, and volunteering ideas gathered over two decades in the space.


Blockchain Positive Impact: Social Enterprise and Nonprofits

25 Apr

Trust, transparency, and decentralization are creating powerful new potential for equity, inclusion, and humanitarian applications and ideas

You’ve heard of it, and you may know a bit about it. Blockchain is a “distributed ledger” of timestamped transactions which aren’t owned or managed by any single centralized organization; and once a record is created, it can’t be altered. Like electricity or the internet, it isn’t necessary to have any deep technical knowledge of how it works to appreciate the ways it can positively impact our lives.

“Blockchain isn’t just another technology. Blockchain is the foundation for the second era of the internet – an internet of value, where anything of value, including money, our identities, cultural assets like music, and even a vote can be stored, managed, transacted, and moved in a secure, private way. Blockchain is poised to transform every industry and managerial function —redefining the way we make transactions, share ideas, and manage workflow.”

~ Blockchain Research Institute

By way of introduction, here is one of the most popular TED Talks to date on the subject of blockchain, by Don Tapscott. Don is co-author of the popular book on the same topic, “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World,” along with Alex Tapscott. The duo also founded the Blockchain Research Institute, and host the Blockchain Revolution Global Conference in Toronto, Canada (which I am attending and writing about April 24-25, 2019 – follow coverage on social media using #BRG2019).

Don Tapscott gives a compelling and digestible overview of blockchain at TED.

Below is an infographic showing how the blocks in a blockchain are created, verified, and added, where they are permanently recorded. It should be noted that while Bitcoin and blockchain technology were invented at the same time by the anonymous person or person(s) code-named Satoshi Nakamoto, and therefore Bitcoin was the first “use case” for blockchain technology, they are two different things. There are now many applications using blockchain technology that are not tied to Bitcoin at all. There are hundreds of other cryptocurrencies now, as well as “smart contracts” for multiple industry applications which self-execute via programming, and many use cases that are not tied to cryptocurrency.


Some key areas where blockchain appears to be having the most immediate positive social impact in the social enterprise, nonprofit, or NGO (non-governmental organizations) spaces are:

  • Democracy and Governance
  • Land Rights
  • Philanthropy, Aid, and Donors
  • Health
  • Agriculture
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Energy, Climate, and Environment
  • On the near horizon: Digital Identity, Education, Human Rights, and Water

The most immediately-effected social impact areas listed in the Stanford “Blockchain for Social Impact” report are listed in the chart above.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation created an in-depth report, “Blockchain for Social Impact: Moving Beyond the Hype,” that delves deep into the main areas where blockchain is creating positive impact now and can be downloaded here.

As progress is made in these and other social good areas, organizations are starting to keep track of success stories and creative newcomers. The comprehensive list created by BreakerMag, 73 Blockchain Social Good Organizations That Are Actually Doing Something,is one easily readable starting point if you want to learn about specific use cases for social good that already exist or are underway.

Stay tuned for additional articles throughout 2019 and beyond featuring interesting blockchain and artificial intelligence social good case studies, interviews, conference coverage, and trends here. You can also find real-time updates on social media (@CharityIdeas), using the hashtags #blockchain4good, #AI4good, and #changetheworld.


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