What is the organizational divide?
Like the digital divide, the organizational divide refers to a gap in access to and use of technology faced by smaller organizations.
What causes the gap?
Some of the reasons for the disparity between large and small nonprofits are:
- Lack of technical expertise in-house at small nonprofits and aversion/apprehension.
- Little staff time to devote to technology issues.
- Few resources to spend on technology planning, purchase, implementation, customization, training, and upgrades.
- Higher turnover at grassroots organizations makes knowledge retention difficult.
- Most technology is designed for corporate use, or is poorly designed.
- Most software has a steep learning curve, and training is an added cost.
- Expensive licensing of software inhibits resource-sharing and adaptation.
- Standard models for technology assistance involve a lot of custom consulting work, which is often expensive and unnecessary.
The Organizational Divide Initiative (ODI)
Organizers’ Collaborative tested ODI with 18 organizations in Roxbury, MA with the goals of bridging the gap faced by small nonprofits and creating a replicable model for shared learning and collaborative technology implementation.
ODI has three stages:
The half-day meeting includes peer-led presentations of technology, with discussions about the tools and trainings most needed throughout the sector.
The series of 3-4 trainings is based on the technology needs discussed in each of the meetings. Organizations are able to build a shared base of technical knowledge and skills within the sector.
- web and email for organizing and outreach
- content management systems
- volunteer recruitment and management
- online fundraising
- building and effective communications strategy
- leveraging new media tools for community-based work
Participants have the option to request individual or multiple-group consultation and technical assistance from OC to implement what they learned during training. Each organization contributes a small, sliding-scale amount of money ($60-$300), based on organizational budget, but receives subsidized assistance valued between $600-$1200.