App Dev6 min read

All for One and Tech for All

Blakely Thomas-Aguilar
TechSoup equips communities with the innovative technology they need to build a more equitable planet.

In the minds of nonprofits and corporate tech leaders alike — from San Francisco to Sicily, and Sri Lanka to Senegal — TechSoup nourishes social causes through innovation.

In 1987, Daniel Ben-Horin came up with the idea to create a technology mentoring system to help nonprofits and schools. Today, TechSoup enables the social sector with the technology essential for improving lives worldwide.

“TechSoup is a network of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) all working on a common mission. We use technology to help communities connect and develop innovative solutions, so we have a more equitable planet,” says Rebecca Masisak, CEO, TechSoup.

TechSoup is a shining example of how much good can come from removing the barrier between nonprofits and technology. They provide:

  • Education: Trainings, blogs and webinars help nonprofits learn how to leverage technology to power their causes.
  • Accessibility: Through TechSoup’s ecommerce platform, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social benefit organizations and charities have access to 375 products and solutions from over 100 companies, such as VMware, Microsoft, Adobe and Zoom.
  • Affordability: Nonprofits, libraries and foundations are potentially eligible to receive donated or discounted software and hardware.
  • Support: Engineering and service capabilities enable true digital transformation that drives impact.

A Community Approach

One of the things I think is most special about the work we've done is that we've built a community that's closer together and can learn from each other. That’s good for capacity building and helping people be better at the work they're doing while keeping costs low, especially when budgets are tight. But I also think it’s very good for society in general.


How COVID-19 Impacts Nonprofits

COVID-19 has an extraordinary impact on nearly every industry across the globe, and nonprofits are no exception to the disruption. In addition to technology, nonprofits also face the practical challenge of moving staff, operations and program delivery to virtual work environments.

“We quickly spun up a bunch of resources to really address and support organizations as they began their journey moving to remote work,” says Cameron Jones, VP of solutions and services at TechSoup.

In addition to remote work enablement, nonprofits have a unique opportunity to transform how they operate. Funders are either focusing new grants for self-sustaining activities designed to enhance a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission through technology or repurposing existing grants to fuel digital transformation.

We've heard from NGOs around the world that COVID-19 is placing unprecedented demands on their operations, just as they are needed most.


TechSoup’s Chief Community Impact Officer, Marnie Webb, says, “We were taking a very planned and strategic approach to the idea of a digital transformation strategy. But with COVID-19, it’s more like: No, now!”

Many organizations choose technology based on current needs. TechSoup’s goal is to provide tangible steps for nonprofits to progress in their digital journey. And the team recognizes the need to be flexible in respective areas to meet an organization’s unique needs.

With TechSoup’s COVID-19 Response Fund, small organizations can rapidly adjust their technology planning, work processes and service delivery.

“Nonprofits need to rapidly make technology decisions that will help them to manage through the coronavirus crisis,” says Webb. “The TechSoup COVID-19 Response Fund will enable us to scale up services, online courses and consulting to organizations that don’t have in-house tech support, ensuring their digital transition and ability to keep serving their communities.

A TechSoup Success Story: MotherCoders

Tina Lee was a long-time contributor to the technology industry before giving birth to her second daughter. Faced with the reality of working full time while parenting two children, she saw a need for helping moms keep up with fast-paced market changes in tech. There weren’t any tech meet-ups or skills classes designed to help women with children stay current, let alone get ahead — not until MotherCoders was born.

Tina Lee founded the nonprofit organization MotherCoders to help moms jumpstart careers in tech.

The MotherCoders learning experience is immersive, giving them a deep understanding of the technology industry and the skills needed to succeed.

MotherCoders counts on TechSoup for technology that makes it possible for the organization to do its work. Accounting and cybersecurity software, laptops and other hardware help streamline operations for its distributed team and enables its students to achieve their goals.

“The greatest thing about TechSoup is that it makes technology accessible to everyone, especially nonprofits where every dollar counts,” says Lee.

And while MotherCoders helps individual moms, its greater vision of achieving gender equality through economic empowerment is always top of mind. As the world moves into the next phase of technological transformation, MotherCoders envisions a future where moms diversify the marketplace by contributing to the design and development of technology products and services. At the same time, they strengthen communities by creating businesses and thriving in jobs with livable wages and advancement opportunities.

Women reinvest 90% of income back into their communities, so when we empower mothers, everyone benefits.


From Idea to Reality

A website is a basic requirement for today’s NGOs. But nonprofit leadership teams and boards of directors recognize the need for more. They need mobile. They need apps. They need cloud. They need global connectivity. And when they don’t know how to turn their digital transformation ideas into reality, they turn to TechSoup.

That’s where the TechSoup Digital Assessment tool comes in. With customized development roadmaps, organizations can understand the starting baseline and the steps needed to progress their digital journey.

“The nonprofit sector is really behind in terms of digital transformation, often due to systemic barriers like funding constraints,” says Jones. “The longer nonprofits take to adopt new technologies, the more expensive it will be. And suddenly, those products they’ve been using will no longer be supported.”

As more organizations begin to use the assessment tool, they’ll see where they rank against peers. For example, a church could take the assessment and see how their digital strategy compares to other churches via a comprehensive dashboard of information. With TechSoup partnering with more than 1 million nonprofits around the world, this helps organizations compare technology capabilities with others based on size, mission or programs.

TechSoup sees the future of the tool as a data-sharing automated system to be used on a global scale. Eventually, they would like to build common applications on top of the base to help layer add-ons, such as workflow automation and other digital integrations.

To stay relevant for our community, we also have to improve. Digital transformation is an enormous opportunity for all of us. It’s the promise of doing things in a way that can uplift many organizations at once — without each shouldering the burden of becoming a technical expert in developing applications, but rather using what that organization uniquely knows, which is having an understanding of the social issue. Now is an exciting time.“


A Digital Journey of Their Own

TechSoup also uses its partners’ technology to help achieve its mission and build best-in-class apps.

  • Internally, TechSoup uses cloud-based technology as an accessible platform to distribute and monitor the use of technology.
  • Customer-facing technology continues to leverage cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service models, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
  • TechSoup developed a Cooperative Technology Platform to fuel the organization’s Validation Services. The NGO Marketplace makes it easy for corporations and foundations to connect their in-kind donations and grantmaking with eligible nonprofits.
  • Lastly, technology connects TechSoup’s Global Network. The nonprofit organization collaborates with 61 of the world’s leading civil society organizations to improve lives globally with technology. These partners manage a range of capacity-building programs to serve communities in nearly every region of the world. Together, The Global Network has reached more than 1 million organizations and delivered greater than $12 billion market value of in-kind tech and funding.

With the help of VMware, the cloud is going to help us execute on our four key priorities: consolidation of enterprise systems, infrastructure, apps and data. The consolidation of data will help us ensure data privacy rights, protect the data, use it to create services and provide solutions to enable nonprofits to serve their missions.


As part of its digital transformation roadmap, TechSoup also is exploring emerging technologies.

“We are actively exploring blockchain for validation services, so we can ensure the data we have on the nonprofit sector is protected, secure and valid,” says Enos. “We are also looking at leveraging machine learning to better understand what nonprofits would benefit from in terms of courses, resources, information and solutions.”

An Eye to the Future

TechSoup is committed to improving civil society by using technology as an enabler — to help people, communities and our collective future. To fulfill its promise for the future, TechSoup aims to pair purpose-built apps with expert services. They believe this will help close the gap between what’s commercially available and how organizations unlock the benefits in their digital transformation journeys.