May 23, 2019
By Jessamine Chin, Director, VMware Foundation
At VMware, we’re on a journey to put back more than we take, delivering long-term shared value for our stakeholders, and unlocking opportunities for all. As part of that journey, for the past three years, we’ve been working with the pro bono experts at Taproot Foundation, investing in tools and resources to help nonprofits build their technical capacity.
Many of the 12 million global nonprofits that are tackling the planet’s most pressing problems are struggling with realizing the benefits of technology due to lack of resources, funding and capacity. Well-intentioned companies, funders and volunteers want to jump in and help; however, what we’ve learned through our work with Taproot is that in order to truly support a nonprofit so they can meet and exceed their mission, we must take a customer-centric, long-term approach to co-create solutions that build nonprofits’ organizational capacity.
As our CEO, Pat Gelsinger, wrote earlier this year, “Let’s be honest, this kind of long-term, multi-part collaboration is not easy. The issues you’re trying to address – education, poverty, and climate change – are so complex that they require deep understanding of the historical context, an ability to apply systems thinking, and a significant time commitment to embed yourself at the community level.”
Transforming Technology Pro Bono, released last week, is the final compilation of a four-step guide for both volunteers and nonprofits looking to engage in pro bono services. The Solution Development Framework in the Guide details how to Discover, Design, Implement, and Maintain a sustainable solution that meets the needs of nonprofits.
How the Guide Helps Volunteers and Nonprofits
Our intent for this free Guide is that it’s used by companies, foundations and volunteers who would like to offer pro bono service to nonprofits, as well as nonprofits who are looking for more effective technology pro bono projects. Using the Transforming Technology Pro Bono Guide, we hope to mitigate the “rush to take action mentality.” For example, we’ve found that many people often skip over the critical Discover and Design phases. While it may seem more efficient, rushing to Implement often leads to projects that are more costly and don’t ultimately serve the organization’s needs. We’ve intentionally focused on providing this practical Guide to support more effective and sustainable technology pro bono.
And it pays off. Investing in the Discover and Design phases with a nonprofit can result in 2x faster timeframe to deploying a solution; 75 percent increased alignment and efficiency; 301 percent return on investment; 33 percent less development and testing time; and 50 percent less defects or missed use cases1.
Nonprofits continue to report not feeling confident they have enough skilled staff or training to effectively use technology2. We believe this Guide will help with this issue, since the technology solution is co-created with the pro bono volunteer and nonprofit staff, with an emphasis on usability and sustainability.
Putting the Guide into Practice at VMware
We do our best to “walk the talk,” so the Transforming Technology Pro Bono Guide has provided the theoretical foundation for VMware Foundation’s Good Gigs Projects. Evolved from previous pro bono programs and launched in May 2018, Good Gigs Projects invite VMware people to apply their pro bono talents to co-create a technology solution with a nonprofit. Through these efforts, we work to bridge the growing technology divide and equip social sector organizations with powerful tools to support them in delivering on their missions. Since launching, VMware people have led 14 projects in countries including the US, UK, and Costa Rica.
We are committed to strengthening the operational capacity of social sector organizations. Releasing the Transforming Technology Pro Bono Guide is a milestone in our journey to give back more than we take. We hope you find it useful and are able to put it into practice at your organization.
Brown, Benjamin. “The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM’s Design Thinking Practice.” Forrester Consulting. Feb 2018. p. 1-2.
 Hulshof-Schmidt, Robert. “The 10th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments Report.” NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network. May 2017. p. 8, 15.