Bayer Center Nonprofit Technology Survey


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My Bayer Center colleagues make fun of my love of data.  They remind me of the time when Giant Eagle’s advantage cards and the consumer data they collect came up in conversation and I said “I’d love to get my hands on that data”.

Pile of blank technology surveys waiting to be filled out.

Blank surveys waiting for lovely data.

We’re just ramping up the data collection for 2010, and I have this familiar feeling of anticipation.  I can’t wait to see what this year’s survey shows us about the progress/regress of technology in local nonprofits.  Look at all those blank surveys just waiting to be completed.

Thanks to all who provide the raw material that I get the pleasure of turning into findings.  Check the bottom of the home page for two ways you could do it right now.


Written by Jeff Forster

August 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Survey Progress

Communication Tools – Frequency

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Following up on a tease I put out before we revealed the full technology survey results last week: I told you back in September that new media tools were being adopted, and the percentage rates of adoption were large. With a few more surveys in after that, we ended up here:


A few noteworthy things:

  • Email has caught up to print and phone in the number of agencies that say they used it. It had trailed
  • Even if web 2.0 tools (Social networking, blogs, podcasting, RSS feeds) are growing rapidly, they’re growing rapidly to very minority positions. The vast majority of nonprofits in the region are not using them.

There’s been a discussion over on Beth Kanter’s blog about when not to use social networking tools. Among other things, someone expressed shock that Faxes are still being used in 80% of organizations. With fax and with other communication tools, it’s worth digging down into the frequency numbers:


Yes, 80% of organizations have fax machines, but only 28% of those say they use them frequently. Email, on the other hand, is above 70% using it frequently. That beats print by a significant amount, which quantifies how email is clearly replacing print. The frequency rates of the newer communication tools are dominated by the “Rarely” response. Yes, more people are Podcasting, but none of them are doing it frequently. Other web 2.0 tools show similarly rare use even in the small minorities of organizations that are using the tools.

Written by Jeff Forster

November 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Survey Findings

Tech Survey debuted at TechNow

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We had a grand time unveiling the Tech Survey results yesterday at TechNow, the Bayer Center’s nonprofit technology conference. Over 100 people joined us and shared in a great day of learning, networking and fun. We call people who attend TechNow “TechNovians”. You should join us next year. Become a TechNovian. It will change you.

Check out the TechNow site.

Written by Jeff Forster

November 3, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Survey Progress

The Five-timers Club

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Every survey we do attracts organizations that haven’t participated before. We need that new blood, and we’re grateful for it. There has been, though, a faithful group that has participated in all five tech surveys. That elite club is:

Affordable Comfort, Inc.

Allegheny Regional Asset District

FISA Foundation

Flying Mammal Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Gateway to the Arts

Mental Health America – Allegheny County

Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA

Mon Valley Initiative

Pittsburgh Action Against Rape

Southwestern PA Human Services

The Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, Inc.

Thanks, five timers!

Written by Jeff Forster

September 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Survey Progress

Data Glimpse: Communication Tools

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Here is some hoped-for-but-not-necessarily-expected news: nonprofits in the region are using “new” interactive IT tools more in 2008 than in 2006. The survey collects data on the use of a whole menu of communication tools from the fax (remember that? charming device) to print and phone and blogs and podcasting and text messages. The data for this year shows increased adoption of newer tools. The rates of increase over 2006 for selected modes of communication:

  • Podcasting up 170%
  • Text messaging up 96%
  • Managed email systems up 20%
  • Interactive or e-commerce web pages up 56%

Plus, in what may be a nod to higher fuel prices:

  • Video conferencing up 74%

Many of these increases are offset by declines:

  • Managed email systems may be eating away at the use of direct email, which is down nominally by 5%
  • Interactive web sites outpaced the growth of “regular old” web sites by 50 percentage points

The nuance in this data comes in how frequently organizations use the various tools. You’ll have to wait for that nuance until the full debut of the data at TechNow. In the meantime, get back to recording your podcast.

Written by Jeff Forster

September 10, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Survey Findings

Video Camera Winner

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You may be wondering who won the digital video camera in this year’s tech survey drawing.  We’re happy to report that it is Kristin Peorschke of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor.  We thank all participants and wish everyone could win.

Kristin won our hearts by identifying her title on her survey as “Bookeeper/Office Manger/TechNovian”.  If you weren’t able to join us at TechNow last year, you won’t know what a TechNovian is.  To find out, join us at TechNow 2008.  Register today!

Written by Jeff Forster

September 8, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Survey Progress

Data Glimpse: Technology Dreams

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One of the few open-ended questions we ask on the survey is:

What is your orgnization’s technology dream or next big step?

The answers cover a large spectrum of ambition, but many of them target simple steps or states of technology that one would have thought (oh, 8 years ago in the summer of the first survey) that we would have solved by now. A sampling:

  • new hardware, better software, ample website and tech troubleshooting support
  • Getting a better computer network, getting more training for staff
  • Our own website
  • New client management database

These responses, in fact, overlap with the kinds of responses we got in 2002, the first time we asked the question. A besetting problem – e.g. no centralized information system – may be solved by one agency but still loom as a barrier for 10 others. The final report will include a more quantitative analysis of the technology dream responses, but the theme of prosaic, enduring “dreams” definitely persists.

As long as the basic tools – PCs, network infrastructure, databases, web sites – are the next thing, nonprofits will continue to lag in adopting other technologies that create opportunities to reach more people and make change now.

Written by Jeff Forster

August 27, 2008 at 7:33 pm