“Nonprofits will never trust you, because you only have tech experience,” someone told me during a February coffee meeting when I explained the vision to connect technology companies with social impact opportunities. My stomach turned in a knot. Like many scenarios throughout my life, my initial reaction was panic. Then my instinct kicked in and something said, “Chad, trust your gut on the opportunity you see.”
The last five months have consisted of countless meetings with nonprofits to get a sense of their “real need” and then matching that up with Lucky Forks’ expertise. There are so many nonprofit organizations that it can be overwhelming. However, there are three common opportunities for tech companies that have become clear.
Stop “checking the box” and form a long-term nonprofit partnership that best reflects your values. It is easy to name the nonprofits that have large operations and have built a strong brand. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that those organizations are right for you. If you can’t clearly articulate how planting that tree or building that house aligns with your company values, you probably have a case of “checking the box.” If you take the time to align your values and technology with the right nonprofit, it should be a seamless long-term partnership that drives authenticity in the market and high employee engagement. Your company values are primarily something that remain central to your organization and so should your corporate philanthropic partners.
Provide a service that nonprofits need to advance their mission. Nonprofits are in the business of their mission, not being the most advanced marketer or building the next big platform. Most nonprofits, especially the smaller organizations, can’t use money toward hiring a rock star CMO or CTO. Why? Because they have to make each dollar count toward their mission. Marketing your technology and building technological efficiencies is what you do on a daily basis. You have a massive opportunity to take your daily work and apply those fundamentals to nonprofits needing to advance their marketing messages or technological footprint.
Partner with a nonprofit that will feel your impact and your employees will feel it too. If you are a company of less than 2,000 employees, think about the profile of the people in your organization. I would bet that most people, especially the early employees, are individuals that like to see and feel their professional impact. The same should apply to their social impact. Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist, has an amazing TED talk sharing her 10-year research centered around how helping others makes us happier. Yet, she points out how you help is important when comparing the feeling of impact between helping a small versus large nonprofit. When finding your long-term partner, consider the size of the nonprofit and if there is an authentic impact your organization can make and feel. When you get this right, you will have satisfied employees that see and believe in the impact you are providing.
The more we immerse Lucky Forks in social good the more one thing becomes clear: The tech industry can impact social good more than any other industry in business. So, you coordinated an annual volunteer event and spent a day giving back? Amazing, but you are missing the bigger opportunity to feel your impact by providing services using the things you do within your organization on a daily basis.
Think about it: the technology your company is creating will shape everything that we do in the future – the way we shop, the way we communicate, the way we work and many others. And where else will we see this impact in behavior? How we volunteer, donate and interact in social good. As more of the technology you create changes how we interact as a society, nonprofits will need you more than ever to adapt to these changes in behavior.
Lucky Forks constantly thinks about how we can build a stronger trust between the nonprofit world and the tech world. The reality is that it has to happen because we need each other to evolve to tomorrow’s societal expectations. Nonprofits need your expertise to develop with technological advancements and you need nonprofits to meet the growing social good expectation of today’s employees. Both sides must take the step, and Lucky Forks is here to help bridge that trusting partnership.
Founder & CEO