GIVING TECH LABS

an open call to sustainable public interest technology

We live in a fantastic time where technology can create exponential social good. I keep track of my vitals and the performance of each one of our ventures in the same mobile device I used to write a draft of this document. After reading this, you will perhaps use a smartphone to check your finances or connect with a loved one who is far away.

We take mobile technologies for granted. However, there are over one million public charities, just in the US, trying to address some of our complex problems in society and using technologies that are a decade behind.

The lack of technology is not a simple funding issue as public charities in the US represent a 2 trillion dollar annual economy and some spend as much as the private sector in IT as a percentage of their total expenses.

The lack of technology is the consequence of a fragmented ecosystem that is focused on delivering value but has not figured out how to address issues at the systemic level by pooling resources and finding economies of scale that can attract business and technology innovators. It is not only a fragmented ecosystem of NGOs trying to solve the same issue, but also fragmentation of technological approaches.

Why?

Because the perception is that there is not enough margin or economic incentive for building Public Interest Technology; and most of the $20B spent every year in IT by NGOs, go to fragmented solutions that lack constant innovation and maintenance or are strung together by pooling free resources.

There is also a large gap between modern platforms provided by Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud, and the business needs of NGOs delivering on specific missions.

How can we spark transformation at scale, making the development and operation of Public Interest Technology financially attractive? How can artificial intelligence, data sciences, marketplaces, matching technologies, and the mobile cloud deliver real impact on significant social challenges we face?

These questions spurred the creation of GIVING TECH LABS, where we create sustainable public interest ventures to help address complex issues in society. We were inspired by the idea of catalytic philanthropy that our mentors and partners Jeff and Tricia Raikes shared with us back in 2015.

Our goal is to inspire the next generation of leaders to do good while also proving a model to do well financially, harnessing the power of the fourth sector; the place where the private sector, public sector and the civic sector (charities, NGOs, and philanthropists) work together in sustainable social enterprises.

It is working. We have incubated four sustainable public interest tech ventures including VidaNyx, a cloud-based video management solution, which is positioned to become a disruptive force in the area of protecting victims of Child Abuse, Human Trafficking, and Domestic Violence.

We also released Giving Planner and Giving Compass, while delivering digital transformation services for three of the largest foundations in the world.

Each one of our incubated ventures goes from idea to Most Viable Product (MVP) generating revenue in 12 months while also reaching its social impact goals.

We are delivering on Return on Investment – ROI and Return on Social Impact – ROSOCI.

Looking forward, we are currently exploring approaches to using mobile cloud technologies and AI Data Sciences to improve Early Childhood Education in Global markets. We are also exploring a Mobile app to help young adults suffering from depression, addiction or anxiety at Higher Education Institutions.

In our Seattle lab, we also run a Fellowship on AI Data Sciences for Good, addressing real and practical challenges brought to us by NGOs and exploring models for creating AI as a Service to best serve the NGO sector at large.

However, one Lab can only go so far.

Our vision is deploying technology and an operating model to unleash tens of thousands of organizations creating sustainable public interest technology addressing society’s urgent issues, on a local basis and with a systemic approach.

This is our vision, mission, and our IKIGAI at Giving Tech Labs.

It is our opportunity, our responsibility, and our moment.

Sources:

  • Total NGO Revenue in the USA – The Urban Institute – National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) – 2018
  • Average NGO spends 1.5% to 3% in IT – Nonprofit Technology Staffing And Investments Report · August 2015 – Private sector averages 3.28% – Deloitte Insights November 2017

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