This guest post was written by Pat Callihan, Executive Director of Tech Impact. As of Oct 1, 2018, Idealware and Tech Impact merged, with Idealware becoming a program of Tech Impact. We’ve published it in parallel with a post written from the perspective of Karen Graham, Idealware’s Director of Capacity Building (formerly Executive Director).

The recent merger of Idealware and Tech Impact has received a lot of visibility in the nonprofit sector. In meetings with constituents, nonprofit leaders, the funding community, and our own associates, I’ve been frequently congratulated and asked about the strategy behind the decision. I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some background and context behind the merger from my own perspective.

Let me start by affirming what many of you already know:

  • Tech Impact is a nonprofit organization. We have no owners or stockholders, and no person or persons benefit financially from the two of us combining our operations. Any time Idealware’s Executive Director Karen Graham and I discussed the possibility of this merger, we did so from a framework that began and ended with mission.
  • Our mission drives our work—and our missions are remarkably similar. In short, we care about the same things—helping nonprofits find and use technology that makes them more efficient and effective in the delivery of their own missions.
  • There are obvious economies of scale to be gained in any merger, including combining resources and back office. For us, this was never reason enough. Both organizations had to believe that we would fundamentally provide exponential value to the sector or a merger would not be the right decision.

I have been a long-time follower and fan of Idealware. Having come from the private sector more than 10 years ago, I knew of the many resources available in that domain to help organizations make decisions about their technology investments, but there are fewer for nonprofits. Idealware’s approach was novel. Nonprofits are unique. They need technology research focused on their own challenges and business processes—Idealware was there to help with those decisions. I cannot think of a single meeting or presentation I have given over the last 10 years that did not end by pointing my audience to Idealware as a trusted resource.

I want to touch on that last statement—that Idealware is a “trusted resource.” For as long as I have known Idealware, it has always maintained editorial independence. Tech Impact has sponsored numerous pieces of Idealware reports over the years and I have directly commissioned other work for the benefit of teaching nonprofits about cloud computing.

I have always believed in the importance of capacity building, and there was no source I trusted more than Idealware for that work. In discussions with the staff and board, they have always been steadfast with me about their policies on being vendor agnostic and maintaining editorial control. I never saw this as an issue—rather, I saw it as one of Idealware’s strengths.

While Tech Impact provides technology services to nonprofit organizations, we do so from a mission-centric approach. We are also platform-agnostic, and make decisions we believe are in the best interest of the thousands of nonprofits we have served. Our services are also revenue neutral—we don’t rely on any fundraising to deliver them.  Most of our grant revenue is used to support our workforce development programs for Opportunity Youth. A very small percentage of the grants we receive are related to our services, and that’s meant to build our own capacity so that we may serve more nonprofits or to further educate them on such important topics as cloud, data, and security. If we promote solutions for nonprofits, we do so because we believe they are the right solutions. That’s it.

This is where the power of a combined Idealware and Tech Impact organization becomes evident. We both have mission to help nonprofits use technology for social good. By leveraging Idealware’s research and Tech Impact’s hands-on expertise, we can achieve greater impact.

Together we will reach more nonprofits. Together we will provide research and consulting to help nonprofits solve their challenges. And, together we will use our expertise to identify trends in technology and address them through research and education.

We are being very deliberate in our integration. We are taking it slow, and we are listening to each other. Our combined teams are using design-thinking sessions to explore the best ways to provide increased impact to the sector. I could not be more excited about our future and to learn where our collective work takes us.

I look forward to reporting back to you about our combined achievements. If you have ideas about how we can create more impact, I want to hear them. After all, we are here to serve you, and to make the sector stronger. Feel free to comment on the post or email info@idealware.org.