Bread Bowls of TechSoup

It doesn’t get more San Francisco than this. I’m eating clam chowder out of a breadbowl and blogging about tech.  I may have grown up in LA, but it seems my NorCal transformation is nearly complete. I haven’t bought a Giants jersey yet, but give me time. I might come around. (No promises).

The tech organization I’m writing about is this week’s In Lieu Of nonprofit feature, TechSoup. (It just so happens to be the very first one!) If you aren’t familiar with TechSoup, allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite nonprofits. Their stated mission is to build a dynamic bridge that enables design and implementation of technology solutions for a more equitable planet.

They offer a number of tech related services to nonprofits all over the world, but they are best known for their product donation program, which provides nonprofits with discounted (and often free!) software, hardware, and training. You might think that the product catalog would be filled with obscure tech junk you’ve never heard of, but you’d be 100% wrong. Bigly wrong.

TechSoup threw their weight around and negotiated deals for a host of private industry standard products like Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), Microsoft Office, and Norton Security. There is a reason that well funded businesses use these products - they are phenomenal, but they aren’t cheap. More often than not, at full price these products are out of budget for bootstrapped nonprofits that rely on volunteer elbow grease just to keep the lights on.

Here are a couple of reasons that I am head over heels in love with TechSoup’s approach:

  1. Tech isn’t a priority for most nonprofits, but it should be. If you’ve ever visited a small or local nonprofit’s website, you know that they are Byzantine at best. Don’t believe me? Just check out WACTC’s website. They are a fantasitc nonprofit that offers computer literacy classes for god sakes! How can the website be so old?
  2. High cost is a big barrier to entry for most nonprofits and TechSoup bulldozed that barrier. Nonprofits rely upon the kindness of volunteers and donors to keep the lights on. They don’t have extra room in their budget for expensive software or hardware.

  3. TechSoup’s model is focused on using expertise and discounts to empower nonprofits to do their best work. I LOVE empowerment models for many reasons, chiefly because they are easily scalable for maximum impact.

It’s a good thing that they are built to scale, because with slashed funding for the public sector, TechSoup’s work is becoming increasingly necessary for nonprofits to stay afloat. Jim Lynch, a Staff Writer at TechSoup, shared “The astonishing thing that is going on behind the scenes is that TechSoup and the U.S. nonprofit community are gearing up to address looming Federal budget cuts in nearly every area that affects low-income Americans. We are being called to step up like never before in areas like housing, hunger, healthcare, social services, education, environment, civil rights, immigration, digital inclusion and many more areas. It is our honor to support the incredible work of our 320,000 U.S. nonprofit members to meet these challenges.”

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, “That’s not all!” With projects like, NetSquared, they provide communities for like minded techies, activists, and funders to sync up and collaborate on worthwhile projects. If you’d like to find out more, visit the TechSoup website and browse around.

Bonus Karma

If you feel like earning a few extra good karma points this week (you never know when you’ll need them!), help TechSoup spread the word. Share the TechSoup website with nonprofits you work with. I can guarantee they will thank you. They might even give you a golfer’s clap for good measure.