Promising Practice

Jason Shim – harnessing technology to make a difference in the world

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Posted on: August 23, 2019

In this episode, I’m talking with Jason Shim, described by TechSoup as a Nonprofit Technology Rockstar. I definitely share that opinion. I’m so excited to bring his insights, energy and experience to all of you.

Listen here:

Jason’s a connector, an innovator with an insatiable curiosity. As you’ll find in this episode, he shares his experience, learning and knowledge freely, humbly, and with insight and analysis.

I wanted to talk to Jason for a number of reasons, which you can imagine from all that I just described. But, in 2012, he wrote a specific article that really caught my attention. He shared his and his organization’s experience using Facebook as a tool to better communicate with the youth they serve. Not market to. Not solicit donations. Not for the Likes and Shares. But to serve them better. It’s always been a seminal article on the topic for me. There’s just not been enough written about it. So I wanted to catch up with him to see how it’s going, 4 years later, and to have him distill even more learning from his experience.

I had a lot of fun interviewing Jason. And also learned so much. On his LinkedIn profile Jason writes: “How can we harness technology to make a difference in the world? That’s the question I love to answer for organizations.” I think you’ll enjoy hearing how he’s been able to answer it for his own organization.

Selected links

Show Notes

  • Be where your clients are when it comes to technology
  • Make technology a priority in your organization. Technology can play a significant role in advancing your mission.
  • Integrate technology with your organizational strategy, not as an afterthought
  • Quantify the efficiencies of using technology – make your case about how technology can be helpful. Be able to answer this question: “Does it solve a problem, or is it a solution looking for a problem?”
  • Frontline workers/champions are essential. They have the direct connection with clients. They have the data, which is essential to make your case. The more specific you can be, the better.
  • Don’t focus on technology for technology’s sake, focus on how it will hep your work, improve your services
  • There is value in small pilots. Implementing technology takes time, it can take years to get complete buy-in. See what you can learn from small steps, iterate and scale. There is less risk in this approach in a notoriously risk-averse nonprofit sector.
  • When it comes to policies, recognize that most of your work is already covered by existing organizational policies. Focus on guidelines, best practices, peer modelling/mentoring and sharing. Peer support is crucial for making technology implementation work.
  • Manage time expectations with both clients and staff. Be clear that staff are to use professional accounts/personas, not personal accounts.
  • Can technology make your work easier AND help you serve clients better? The potential is there for it to do both, sometimes at the same time.
  • Be aware of the limitations of the technology you’re using in your service provision, and move clients to in-person or other channels when it makes sense to.
  • Workers are all capable service providers. Don’t forget everything you already know when you move services online. It’s just a different channel. Reassure people about their skills, they just might need some help with technology mechanics. But, what matters is that they already know how to serve their clients.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities of technology in your work.

Summary

In this episode, I’m talking with Jason Shim, described by TechSoup as a Nonprofit Technology Rockstar. I definitely share that opinion. I’m so excited to bring his insights, energy and experience to all of you.
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