Push it out the window.

by Justin Crawford

This was crossposted over at the Boulder Nonprofit Cultivation Center.

I work for a little technology company in Boulder called dojo4. Many of dojo4's customers have tight budgets and long wish lists. They almost always have to make trade-offs between competing priorities, leaving lots of important work for another time. The cost of buying or building new technology is a huge hurdle for them.

I know what you're thinking: dojo4 must work with a lot of nonprofits, right?

Well, sometimes we do. But I'm actually talking about technology startups. They hire dojo4 to help them turn their ambitious ideas into products and services on the internet. Most of them face many of the same challenges nonprofits encounter when it comes to technology:

  • It's hard to know what technology investments are most important.
  • It's impossible to keep up with technology's rapid changes when your real focus is on a service, a population or a product.
  • It's challenging to find good technical partners.
  • Technology is expensive!

Of course there are plenty of differences between startups and nonprofits—too many to list here. But one difference is worth examining: Unlike many established nonprofits, most technology startups are agile to a fault. Their requirements, circumstances, missions and staff change rapidly and often. Letting go of technologies that aren't working is one way that startups deliver maximum return on funders' investments.

Consider this in the context of your nonprofit:

  • Do your specialized, non-technical staff spend their days fighting with technology? 
  • Does your website always need expensive fixing? 
  • Does your Microsoft Exchange server sometimes seem to get more attention than your constituents? 
  • How do all these secondary concerns affect your ability to deliver your core service?

If this sounds familiar, maybe you can take a page out of the startup playbook: Just push that Exchange server out a window. It'll feel good if nothing else.


I know it may not be quite that easy. But you can let go of some nonessential technological baggage. You can make technology choices that increase your agility. You can solve your own technology problems.

But how do you start? Come to the Nonprofit Cultivation Center's annual Technology Summit on June 19th! dojo4 is sponsoring this event because we believe it represents a unique opportunity for Boulder's nonprofits to team up with Boulder's vibrant technology community, to work together on issues that matter to us all.

The modern internet offers a wealth of new tools to help your nonprofit focus on its mission. And the internet also supports an awesome culture of generosity and innovation. We've never had so many great tools at our fingertips. It's never been so easy to discover people who care about the same things you care about. It's never been so easy to contribute to something important!

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dojo4 hosts international high-school student entrepreneurs (March 2012)

New technologies present incredible opportunities, but passionate people realize them. I'm looking forward to meeting some passionate people at the Technology Summit this year and learning about their next adventures with technology.

Interested in attending the technology summit? Register here. Interested in sponsoring it and connecting with 100 Boulder County nonprofit participants? Get in touch!