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Equity guide for nonprofit technology (2020)

Posted on:
November 14, 2021

This 2020 NTEN guide provides a set of guidelines addressing the equitable use, creation, and funding of technology in the nonprofit sector. This "guide was created through a collaborative process with diverse community members who acknowledge it is merely the beginning. We anticipate it evolving as it mirrors changes in society. You’ll find that equity, particularly racial equity, is central to this document as a reflection on NTEN’s commitment to advancing equity as an intersectional issue. Our commitment acknowledges that the foundation of all equity work is antiracism due to white supremacy’s dominance in all oppression systems."

What's in the guide?

The guide is organized into 5 key areas.

  1. Commitment to Tech Equity outlines how a focus on tech equity must be grounded in "an understanding of and a commitment to equity in many forms for your staff, constituents, and our collective world. The compounding systems of oppression that have operated around and through our organizations and our sector will not be dismantled easily. These include white supremacy, racism, capitalism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia." The guide encourages you to use "technology within nonprofit organizations to further equity for staff and communities"
  2. Usage of Technology Within Nonprofit Organizations outlines how technology "touches every aspect of a nonprofit forboth staff and constituents, including collecting data and its use, how communication and training may happen, and even their access to necessary tools." Importantly, the guide recognizes "Because of technology’s vast influence, it can easily create or exacerbate inequities both inside and outside the organization."
  3. Funding for Nonprofit Technology provides guidelines for funders to ensure "technology is not an isolated investment and needs to be acknowledged in budgeting and investing as an integrated part of an organization." The goal is "to ensure successful, sustainable projects and encourage bold experimentation"
  4. Creating Technology for Nonprofits outlines how "technologies nonprofits use come with bias from those who created it and the anticipated original customer. Consequently, the data  nonprofits collect and rely on, how nonprofits communicate or interact with constituents, and even how they deliver programs or accept donations may be filtered through a commercial lens that does not reflect the unique needs, expectations, or care appropriate for nonprofit work." Importantly, whether nonprofits use existing technology or create new tech, we should be working to "disrupt the nonprofit corporate model and recognizes the nonprofit sector’s uniqueness."
  5. A Facilitator’s Guide encourages those who want to drive the conversation about technology equity in their nonprofit to use and "think of this facilitation resource and the NTEN Equity Guide as resources to help start and deepen the equity conversations in your organization."

As the guide outlines, this is an ongoing and evolving conversation. Use this guide to at least start the conversation in your organization and community. Connect with others doing similar work to continue to build an equity and inclusion approach to technology development and adoption in the nonprofit sector.

For more information, watch this NTEN community discussion about how the guide was created and how you can use it in your organization:

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This 2020 NTEN guide provides a set of guidelines addressing the equitable use, creation, and funding of technology in the nonprofit sector.