The session was called "Funding Technology Projects" and was moderated by Jeff Forster. It includes two funders, Doreen E. Boyce from the Buhl Foundation and Christopher J. Mackie from The Andrew Mellon Foundation. I interviewed Christopher J. Mackie following the session. Here's the first segment about how to keep up with learning about technology.
Some key points that resonated:
- Mackie spoke about the issue of nonprofits keeping up to speed in technology and how difficult it was. He notes, "It isn't possible for one person to keep up. You need your peers. You need a network. Find your peers who are in a similar situation and it doesn't have to be another arts organization. Find your peers and share knowledge."
- Be aware of vendor-driven solutions. Get the vendors out of the picture and start with your strategic goals.
- We never bought you typewriters, so don't ask for computers. What are you going to do with the technology? The outcomes are important.
- Documentation of your project is important and get it disseminated so other people can benefit from your knowledge.
- What comes first, technology or change? Chicken and egg. Change for change sake is not good. You need educate people on your board/staff - there will be resistence.
- Technology literacy is important --- and in order gain literacy you need get people to put fingers to keyboard. They don't have to be experts, but comfortable. It helps if there is a technology savvy person who can help in the crisis, but they must be someone who can speak to people in a engaging way about technology.
- Don't get captured by vendors. It is important that your needs don't get overlooked in the relationship. That's why Open Source is a good way to go - you don't get locked in.
- Vendors are not evil. Some of them are the best people we know - but it is about the relationship and your interests and needs first.
- Social costs of technology are vastly higher than the box. The costs of training, replacement, keeping, staffing, etc.
- Business for Open source a.) Heiress or Patron 2.) Consortium. Farmers Coop is the analogy
Jeff Forster mentioned that his survey of nonprofit technology benchmarks - comparable data from the last six years - the next segment comes out next week!