U.S./world – Digital change – Buy-in seen as key

Technology can transform philanthropy and civil society if its use by nonprofits can win the backing of key board and staff, and be the focus of strategic planning and long-term collaboration with commercial partners, a new report suggests.

The Internet can boost community-building by connecting citizen groups that share values, and can help charities strengthen ties with current audiences and reach new audiences, says the report by Independent Sector, a nonprofit research and advocacy group.

The report, “The Impact of Information Technology on Civil Society,” is based on a research forum that the group held in March for 300 researchers, foundation and nonprofit leaders, corporate philanthropists and tech experts.

Closing the “digital divide” between large and small nonprofits will require not only hardware, software and technical assistance, but also strategic planning and staff time, the report says.

It says David Eisner, vice president for corporate relations at AOL Time Warner and senior vice president at the AOL Time Warner Foundation, suggested at the research forum that the payoff for integrating technology into charitable operations, strategy and partnerships can be an increase in giving, volunteerism, philanthropic involvement, information-sharing and learning.

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