This paper was released in May 2007, but its still very relevant.
The attached paper seeks to determine the critical factors that influence the adoption and effective use of technologies within the nonprofit sector. The analysis places a particular emphasis on the role of funders who finance technology adoption and intermediaries who play the role of catalysts, enablers, and educators in the implementation of and subsequent innovation with technology.
Through reviewing the limited academic literature, surveying industry leaders, and performing cross-organizational and cross-regional comparisons, the thesis details policy recommendations for building ecosystems that can help create tech-savvy nonprofits. These critical success factors include a supportive community of foundations, significant diversity of nonprofit and for profit intermediaries, and involvement of senior leadership of nonprofit organizations. While intermediaries play the linchpin role in the networked system, policy recommendations are provided that specify how all actors can contribute to the construction of ecosystems that facilitate adoption, shared learning and effective use of technology in the nonprofit sector.
The study examined the adoption of three technologies (online donations, constituent relationship management [CRM] systems, and Web 2.0 technologies) in Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco regions. The major finding was that Greater Boston nonprofits lag organizations in Philadelphia and San Francisco in technology adoption. Also, the perceived availability of funding for technology is considerably less in the Boston area than the other regions in the study. Finally, only 13% of Boston area nonprofits surveyed have adopted Web 2.0 technologies.
The research was done as part of my MBA program at MIT Sloan School of Management. We will be producing a white paper and are seeking conversations to discuss the implications of the study with interested parties in the nonprofit sector.