Giving Compass' Take:

• Asha Curran and Julia Rhodes Davis explain how nonprofits can use the expertise of code switchers who interact with both the tech and social sectors. 

• How can philanthropists fund technology for social good? What are high-impact opportunities for tech integration at nonprofits? 

• Learn more about how digital tech is transforming social innovation.

We are at an inflection point in the social sector. The rise of digital technology has opened a chasm between mission-driven organizations who are able to harness the power of data and technology, and those who cannot.

Digital data is what trains the algorithms that dictate your Facebook newsfeed and inform advertisers of whether they should target you with their products and services, but it can also be harnessed for good. For organizations like Medic Mobile, which designs and delivers software for health workers providing care in hard-to-reach communities, or GlobalGiving, the first global crowdfunding platform, these algorithms make it possible to achieve impact more efficiently and effectively.

But while these organizations—essentially nonprofit tech companies—exemplify innovation in the nonprofit sector, they are by and large the exception.

This lack of fluency comes at a time when government is shrinking; the private sector is growing; and global challenges like climate change, famine, and refugee crises are worsening. All of this means the demands on mission-driven organizations, which exist to address challenges at the core of inequality and injustice in our world, are increasing.

To keep pace, it’s crucial that mission-driven organizations foster data fluency so that they can execute the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial, transformational programs and collaborations necessary to remain effective, vibrant, and sustainable.

The art of “code switching”:

The “code switchers” in the social sector are people who fill an important delta between specialists—data scientists, machine learning experts, and AI designers—and people who need to rapidly learn and implement those learnings in their own work.

Read the full article about the digital/data divide by Asha Curran and Julia Rhodes Davis at Stanford Social Innovation Review.