Booting up – Grants in works

By Todd Cohen

Helping nonprofits plug into technology will be the focus of a new foundation being created by the head of a Massachusetts group that provides long-distance service and tech help to nonprofits.

TechFoundation, which will be launched in January, will act like a venture capital fund and a group buying agent.

It will raise money, make grants and provide tech consulting. It also will recruit donors, tech volunteers and tech companies donating or discounting products and services – and connect all of them with nonprofits.

The foundation has raised more than $2.5 million, and will hand out $500,000 in its first round of grantmaking in 2001, says David Altshuler, its executive director.

Altshuler, who in December will step down as executive director of TCN in Cambridge, Mass., said grants could range from $5,000 to $100,000 and will go to nonprofits with annual budgets of up to $15 million.

A big chunk of the foundation’s initial funding was donated by Altshuler, who contributed proceeds from the sale of MAC Systems, a Philadelphia-based computer software consulting firm he sold in 1999.

The foundation wants to invest both in nonprofits that need tech help, and in nonprofit tech providers that support nonprofits, so grants in the first funding round in 2001 will focus mainly on collaborative efforts involving nonprofits and their tech providers.

A key goal of TechFoundation will be helping nonprofits create a “systems” environment that builds technology into their ongoing operations and planning, and involves all levels of management.

TechFoundation will be based in Cambridge, with offices in New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

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