Percentage of non-profits smaller than my sub-team oversite.

Cutting Edge Non-Profit Development

I have a simple question for my fellow information technology brethren out there: “Why aren’t Christians developing cutting edge efforts within the software and web industries?”  Really? What is keeping us from locking arms and developing cutting edge tools for the Church and non-profit companies alike and giving them away like candy? What is keeping a small group of entrepreneurs from donating their efforts towards hammering out solutions for 80% of the really big rocks that major Christian and social non-profit efforts are in most desperate need of?

Percentage of non-profits smaller than my sub-team oversite.
Percentage of all US non-profits smaller than my sub-team oversight.

Full disclosure time.  I just realized something.   (I am really stupid or… or I’m really stupid.)  As a mid-level manager/project manager at two major non-profit companies so far in my career, I have had control over funding levels that dwarf 96% of all non-profit companies in America today. 96%?!?  Are you kidding me?  I’m a small fish.  I am not a CFO or an Executive Vice-President or something.  I’ve only managed sub-teams that work solely on the web arm of the companies I have been employed for.

See for yourself.  Here is the data from the Urban institute on the non-profit size of revenues for registered Non-Profit organizations throughout the United States for 2008:

Numbers of non-profits by yearly revenues

To put this in perspective, I just signed the contract on a piece of software that is larger than what 86% of all charities earned all year last year.  Two things can be learned from this statistically anecdotal piece of information.  1.  High-end Software is very very expensive.  2.  Almost all Non-Profits are incredibly incredibly small.  So small that they would not have access, even in their wildest dreams to even get a chance to demo one of these high-end software solutions.

So, all that just to set up the call to arms accurately.  (Run-on sentence alert.)  If we really are one body… and we all agree that software increases productivity significantly… and non-profits are just terribly small and without funding for the real solutions that could help them grow and survive… then it stands to reason that if the Christian community was to develop a software company that existed not for profit sake but for the betterment of the larger missions of all of the companies across the body then it is obvious that this is a must do solution.  The implications here could swing from developing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions all the way out to on call help desk support.  Obviously the overhead on each of these potential solution paths vary greatly and have different costing impacts.  But at this juncture that is almost moot.

Regardless, what is keeping us from creating a non-profit company that develops and releases for free (or close to free) solutions without bias or agenda?  Basically these solutions could be open-source wins for Churches trying to track relationships and giving with parishioners.  Or maybe a solution for NGO’s tracking and solving poverty or AIDS penetration rates within communities and impact of their efforts against this blight on society.  The possibilities here are basically limitless.  Obviously there would need to be some return on investment in order to keep the effort alive long term.  But that is almost a secondary problem.

Right now I know of numerous examples of companies charging exorbetent fees to implement and support “free” technology solutions to Churches and non-profits.  Sure, they are implementing free software but the customization and development of solutions are very pricey for these fledgling NP efforts.  Maybe I forgot to take off my rose-colored glasses today before I began working on this post?  Could be.  I don’t know – what do you think?