Innovation in the Nonprofit Sector

nonyear winner seal logo med-resGuest post from Shana Heilbron, Chief Development & Communications Officer, YWCA National Capital Area. The YWCA National Capital Area was a 2013 Technology Innovation Award winner. Two years later, she reflects on the impact of receiving the award.

The definition of innovation is simple "something new or different introduced" - at least that's what my quick Google research came up with. For us in the nonprofit community, it means new ways of doing things; of executing; of providing the best possible services we can in our community.

For the YWCA National Capital Area, it was offering a distance learning literacy program to our adult students; for others, it's new mobile applications, the Cloud, social media...the list goes on, and on. Bottom line, technology is making a name for itself in the non-profit sector here in the Washington, DC region, and it's helping us to deliver our services better, and improve the way we do 'business.'

When the YWCA national Capital Area won the award in 2013, that accolade became a part of my every-day talking points, and helped our team raise additional programming dollars and increase our exposure as a community provider. We brought in more grant dollars than we had in the past to support our direct service work; the tech company we worked with to build our Distance Learning program shared the announcement of our award win, thereby leading to more community exposure for the YW; and, other organizations in the community have sought out our team, to better understand what we've been able to accomplish. Long story short - the award win, 2 years after the fact, is still helping the YWCA to build and grow support for our adult literacy and workforce programs.

Our sector may not have the investment dollars or the capital like the corporate world, but it's programs and opportunities like the TIA that are making a little dent in our ability to test our technology ideas in the region, and gives me, as a development professional, the opportunity to leverage for more.

Thank you to 501cTECH, and all of the corporate sponsors who have committed both time and money to this effort - $7500 may not be a lot of money in the larger scheme of our multi-million dollar budgets, but it's something - and that is always appreciated!



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