After spending four days meeting geeks from around the world, learning about the causes they care deeply about, I realize that I’m missing something. There’s a question I keep coming back to, over and over, that I can’t seem to answer.
Why didn’t it occur to me before now that the nonprofit tech community exists?
It sounds and feels like an odd thing to admit.
After all, I’ve been working and volunteering with various nonprofits for as long as I can remember. Almost every time, my volunteerism revolved around technology. The needs varried from blogging to event registration – but the result was the same: I tried to make something electronic work better for those who need it.
While part of my lack of awareness of the nonprofit tech community comes from a need to step back from social media while I was at my previous employer – that’s far from the whole story. I’ve learned that, unsurprisingly, I am hardly unique. Leaders in the community told me at NTC that they’ve heard the same refrain used over and over by newbies.
The answer is — it’s actually not hard to find information, if you know what you’re looking for.
I believe that the key to expanding the community is discoverability. Technologists have to know that there are people out there who face similar daily challenges and are willing and able to help. They need to know that there are yearly conferences, and monthly local meetings.
The call to action here could be something like — email two awesome geeks for good and get them “involved”, whatever “involved” means in your parlance.
While that’s a great first step, I’m not convinced it’s anything beyond that. Instead, I want to try to start a discussion. I’m new to the #nptech community, and I have a lot to learn. How do you think we can open up the community more? What would it take to get more geeks working on projects for causes they care about?
In my next post I’ll start to flesh-out into my ideas.