Report Highlights: Technology Needs of the Canadian Voluntary Sector
Between September and December 2001, as part of the Table's technology needs assessment, over 50 key informants in the Canadian voluntary sector were interviewed; a literature search was completed on the use of technology; and over 2,500 voluntary sector agencies across the country were surveyed to study the needs and priorities of the Voluntary Sector. The IM/IT Joint Table released the "Technology Needs of the Canadian Voluntary Sector " report in January 2002.
The Report identifies a set of options that are highly valued by voluntary organizations, can be implemented, and have high potential for impact across the entire sector.
Technology is seen as a tool, not an end in itself. Investments in information and communication technologies should be tied to organizational goals rather than assessed in isolation. Accordingly, the methodology of the study focused on the needs of the sector as a whole, and how technology could meet those needs. The top five choices of where to invest in technology are:
- An inexpensive and user-friendly online database of funders, with detailed information about whom they fund and how to apply. The service should make it easier to apply for funding by allowing organizations of all sizes to search for funding for which they are eligible.
- Direct funding or discounted prices for computers, software, Internet connections and system upgrades.
- More flexibility from funders to allow organizations to buy computers and software or upgrade their systems as an ongoing operating expense.
- Reduced administration and paperwork by eliminating duplication of paperwork through the creation of a common online database of information that funders frequently request.
- A national website that would provide 'one-stop shopping' of information for and about the voluntary sector. The website would include news updates, best practices, links to important Web resources, advocacy tools including email campaigns and research about the sector.
- Other highly rated choices involved fundraising tools, online and distance training for staff and volunteers, the inexpensive creation of agency websites, and simple ways to locate detailed contact information about other voluntary sector organizations.