Most of us probably don’t even pause to think that technology has a deep social impact as well. It is a driver for social change. We have seen how Twitter and Facebook are sparking social movements. Technology probably has some of the answers to the economic and social challenges that many societies face around the world today. It has already given us an interconnected world while it quietly reshapes humanity.
Technology continues to do its bit. From search engines that donate with every search to biggies with their outreach programs in the rural parts of the world. So, with this background let’s look at five web services which help non-profits work effectively on social change.
Donate your spare computer time and help Charity Engine raise funds for charitable causes around the world. We have seen a few similar examples where the mass effect has been used to channelize bytes of computer usage. Charity Engine is similar in the way it takes mammoth expensive computing jobs and chops them into little sections, each manageable by a simple home PC to work on as a background task. Once each PC has finished its part of the puzzle, it sends back the correct answer and earns some money for charity.
Charity Engine also hosts prize draws for participants. The non-profit is completely voluntary and has organizations like Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Médecins Sans Frontières MSF (Doctors without Borders) as its partners among others.
We took a look at how gaming can create awareness and bring about social change in our previously published Find Cool Interactive Games That Create A Social Impact On ‘Games For Change’. Check out the latest batch of games on the site. Also, look at a few upcoming games that are in development in the Labs.
NetSquared has placed itself in the intersection of technology and social change. The site is styled as a blog which is the frontend for the community behind the site. The community is open to any registered user to contribute ideas, projects, experiences or other information about working in technology and social change. NetSquared promotes local communities too which work for social opportunities.
To nurture social technologies, it hosts the NetSquared Challenges and Partner Challenges an annual event. The challenges are generally on developing technology mashups that can contribute to one social sector.
TechSoup is technology enabler for other non-profits. It does that by providing resources and information which help non-profits implement technology more effectively. Think of it as a technology consultant for non-profits. TechSoup has a free registration process for non-profit organizations (some documentation is involved). If an organization gets the eligibility, it can not only tap for donations via TechSoup’s network by also find solutions which relate to technological or informational needs. For instance, TechSoup has donor partners which provide hardware at low-costs.
TechSoup also has learning libraries and forums for knowledge exchange. They cover everything from simple computer how-to’s to more complex questions on sustainability and economics.
Let’s hope Google keeps this part of their solution offerings and doesn’t switch it off. As shown in the screenshot of the landing page, Google helps out non-profits by giving heavy discounts and free licenses for Google Apps and others like Adwords, Google Earth, SketchUp, and Maps API.
There are eligibility guidelines of course like the rider that Google for Nonprofits is open only to organizations based in the United States. Though there are some country specific programs as well. Do read how all this comes together to make the world a better place on Google’s Make a Change page.
Technology is the great enabler. These five are innovative in the way they go about it. What’s the scene in your neighborhood? Is technology playing a more charitable role? Are you doing your bit as a volunteer?