Many members start their Pledge 1% programs with a product donation. But what does product donation look like for tech companies? We talked with four tech companies, big and small, on how they give back with their product.
Looking for more information on donating products? Check out our Product Donation 101 article or our Product Donation playbook. Note - for any playbook access, you must have taken the pledge and be signed in.
If you are a tech company that wants to donate technology, TechSoup should be one of your first stops! TechSoup, is a nonprofit tech marketplace that matches nonprofits with hardware and software offerings that can meet their needs. It currently benefits 1.4 million organizations from around the world.
Jolie Bales, Vice President of Partnerships and Legal Affairs, recommends that socially minded tech companies donate discounted or free products or services by joining the TechSoup marketplace. Rather than search countless nonprofits and reach out to them individually, you can put an offering on the marketplace for relevant nonprofits to find you.
She explained that each nonprofit is robustly vetted by the organization so that only valid nonprofits can receive benefits. In fact, they have an entire legal team that focuses on the definition of a nonprofit or social good organization based on localized definitions.
Less tech-literate nonprofits may not know what types of tools that they can benefit from or maintain with their resources. TechSoup offers a free Digital Assessment Tool that nonprofits can use to identify their needs and find the right resources to meet them – as well as get a sense of their own capacity to operate any tool over the long run.
The organization also accepts hardware donations. If you have old or outdated hardware, it can find a good home.
Darcy Lee, the Vice President of Strategic Growth and Partnerships at Six Feet Up, has built partnerships with multiple nonprofits.
Six Feet Up is a computer engineering consulting firm specializing in Python programming. In Lee’s words, they help “get organizations out of Excel purgatory.” Their product is technically a service; they primarily donate programmer hours.
As an organization with fewer than 100 employees, Six Feet Up only has a limited number of hours. Here are Lee’s tips for making sure that a tech donation works for them.
Rule #1: Work for a discount, not for free
Free work can demoralize employees and may lead nonprofits to undervalue (and under-utilize) donated tech. Lee recommends charging a discounted amount.
Rule #2: Define a Scope of Work and a timeline
Determining a clear scope of work and deadlines on the outset clarifies expectations for both parties and avoids scope creep, or work that goes beyond an initial agreement.
Rule #3: Make a timeline that works for your company
Certain times of year may be busier for your company. Rather than turn down partnerships or reducing the scope of work, consider offering the same work at a later date.
Adam Rosenzweig, Director of Tech for Good at Okta, advises that tech companies start their charitable giving with the company’s functionality. In other words, ask yourself: what problem does your technology solve? Who can benefit from what you do?
Okta is a powerful login and identity management software that lets employees access tech easily. Thus, it follows that a key tenet of Okta’s Tech for Good program is to make tech as accessible to as many people as possible.
When thinking about your tech donation, consider a cause close to your industry.
For example, Pledge 1% Builder Unity Technologies offers a real-time development platform that powers a large amount of 3D animation. It’s a powerful tool with a high barrier to entry in terms of cost and complexity. This means that aspiring developers and animators may not always be able to access the tool on their own. As Melissa Oldrin, the company’s Head of Education Programs, explains that while talent is everywhere, opportunity can be scarce.
That’s why Unity’s product donations primarily focus on education. In addition to grants and other charitable giving, Unity offers significant product donations to schools and educational organizations. By focusing on education, Unity benefits aspiring creators and grows its larger community.