Environmental, Social & Governance3 min read

The Spirit of Giving

Blakely Thomas-Aguilar
In our digital world, strangers helping strangers takes on a whole new meaning. Behind the scenes, tech innovation fuels charitable giving and real-world missions.

What’s In This Episode:

  • Giving goes viral
  • Technology and community building
  • Empowering civil society
  • Resource gaps and service learning
  • Tech for good that changes lives

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Featuring (In Order of Appearance)

Hear how to tech for good is transforming charitable giving and service learning. Pop Culture Tech podcast #5: The Spirit of Giving

The Gift that Keeps Giving

Gift giving has long been part of the human experience. Only recently has it gone viral.

From crowd-funding platforms to social media campaigns, technology and giving are now powerful partners. Today, more than half (55 percent) of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action, according to Nonprofits Source.

Behind the scenes, massive collections of tech innovations are fueling not only charitable moments, but also real-world missions.

Giving Tuesday 2019 raised $1.97 billion dollars online and offline. More than $500 million was raised online in the U.S.

Connecting Communities

TechSoup's mission is to improve lives and build a better world through the use of technology. The organization partners with 70 of the world's leading civil society organizations. Together, the TechSoup Global Network has supported nearly 1.1 million organizations across the globe.

TechSoup’s Caravan Studios focuses on building custom tech solutions for community organizations, from developing software for domestic violence shelters to an app for hungry school kids.

“We work with communities. People that care about and have a common purpose, usually in a geographic area,” explains Marnie Webb, chief community impact officer at Tech Soup. “We bring them together to generate opportunities for tech intervention. We design big and small interventions, test them, and actually build, deploy and support the features that will have the greatest impact.”

Here’s an example. Caravan Studios developed a free app called Range that identifies locations serving free summer meals for school kids. This can be a game-changer for millions of hungry youth who face going without meals when school’s out of session.

Apps like these are wins for civil society, which Marnie explains are both formal and informal efforts to bring people together to do positive work in their community. 

In the Service of Others

Innovative technology use also helps ensure nonprofits and social-good organizations get access to the support they need through pro bono service. That’s the goal of the Taproot Foundation. The non-profit’s  mission is to nourish social change organizations by connecting them with the expertise and insights of skilled volunteers.

“Folks typically think of pro bono service as pro bono legal work, which is incredibly important, but already has a lot of avenues for support within the nonprofit sector,” explains Lindsay Firestone Gruber, Taproot Foundation president and CEO. “But nonprofit organizations also have a critical need for effective HR, IT, marketing and other staff to achieve their missions.”

Since its 2001 founding, the foundation’s infused more than $200 million worth of pro bono support directly into the nonprofit sector. That’s 1.7-plus million hours of pro bono consultation serving upwards of 8,000 nonprofit organizations across more than 13,000 engagements.

Pairing Volunteers and Tech for Good

While giving charities a tremendous boost, pro bono engagement also rewards the professional giving back. Volunteering actually hones skills. And this new benefit—called service learning—is growing as a corporate giving trend.

“We've seen a very heavily increasing recognition that participation and pro bono service is an incredible experiential learning opportunity,” Lindsay says, before providing an example. Haiti Now, she explains, is focused on ending child servitude through the power of education. Founded in 2010, “…it remains entirely volunteer run, making use of pro bono support to fuel its critical work and expand capacity.”

Interested in service learning? Have mad tech skills? #GivingTuesday—the global generosity movement—may be over this year. But it’s never too late to get involved in working for the greater good. And tech can help you get started.

The Pop Culture Tech podcast is brought to you by VMware, the software that connects, automates and secures the world’s digital infrastructure. Learn more at VMware.com.