A Commitment to Digital Infrastructure for Civil Society
One in three nonprofits is in financial jeopardy as a result of the pandemic, according to a recent study by Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. As grantmakers consider their responsibility to stabilize and even reimagine civil society, they are increasingly recognizing that social change in the digital era requires not just an investment in programs but also an investment in technology infrastructure. This investment is more than tools alone; rather it's a commitment to building digital skills, capacity, and new platforms to unlock the knowledge, passion, and collective strength of civil society over time as the relationship between technology and society continues to evolve. Combined, these dependencies might best be referred to as digital infrastructure.
Digital infrastructure is vital to creating robust, scalable, sustainable, and equitable infrastructure for the mission of civil society. Each element of infrastructure must be addressed through coalitional efforts such as data and technology platforms that are funded through public/private/social sector partnership or skills-building initiatives that advance data literacy and technical fluency. Such efforts may be open-sourced or private/social/community partnerships.
Take a Step toward Transformation: To be effective, the work of building infrastructure for civil society must be a collective effort. The Technology Association of Grantmakers is working with NetHope, NTEN, and TechSoup to advocate for digital infrastructure investment and align interested funders toward action. Learn more in our latest publication.
Previous publications include:
August, 2020: Roadmap for Funders: Investing in Digital Infrastructure
April, 2020: Call for Nonprofit Tech Support
Technology leaders at foundations are ready to meet the call to action for digital infrastructure realized during the 2020 pandemic. Now is the time to build a digital infrastructure initiative that is:
We are at an exceptional time. All foundations are being called to action and have an obligation to deliver and respond to the needs of the world. The entire philanthropic sector is being challenged to maximize impact. Foundations are finding creative ways of quickly allocating additional funds by issuing social bonds, streamlining processes, and reducing grantee burdens on application, due diligence, and reporting. Investing in shared platforms and integrated solutions to reduce this burden is not only a call but also an obligation."
- John Mohr, CIO, The MacArthur Foundation