Ten years ago the startup landscape was very different. There were no accelerators, investor platforms, or founder communities. Since 2005, ecosystem players like Y Combinator and AngelList have changed how startups start. Today, the tech nonprofit landscape looks a lot like it did for startups back then. Founders are isolated, funders are ill-equipped to evaluate tech nonprofit business models, and motivated donors struggle to find good investment opportunities.
Early sector leaders like Khan Academy and Kiva demonstrate the need and models for some tech companies to adopt nonprofit business models. First, there are some problems markets can’t solve like universal education or access to financial markets for the poor. Second, while tech is capable of bringing about radical transformation, at the moment, it is exacerbating the income inequality divide. UBER, TaskRabbit, and a host of other tech services are designed for the privileged. Innovation can and should benefit more than the haves. By investing in nonprofit tech, philanthropy can level the playing field.