From 1996 through 2017, The Frist Foundation offered technology grants of up to $10,000 to agencies to buy computers, servers, phone systems and software to improve the way that agencies performed. In the early days of this program, agencies were reluctant to spend unrestricted money on technology, and our grants helped many agencies obtain their first generation of technology. But in recent years, we found ourselves buying replacement computers and software upgrades – items that we think should be anticipated in operating budgets. Now we’re looking once again to help agencies transform the way they work
The grant program will be year-round, with no deadlines. For technology assessments and grants under $25,000, we should be able to respond within three or four weeks. Larger implementation grants will be subject to board review at our quarterly meetings in January, April, July and October.
Sometimes called a road map or technology strategic plan, it’s a formal look at your existing technology and how those tools or new ones could help you become more productive or effective. The assessment typically is undertaken by an expert in consultation with staff. It can address opportunities both internally and externally – in other words, how the staff performs its work and how you relate to clients. A thorough assessment will also identify what’s missing, such as procedures to deal with a server breakdown or website hack. One size does not fit all.
Several agencies told us they felt ill-prepared to assess their own technology needs because technology options are changing so fast. Plus, new technology – everything from apps to cloud-based software – is confusing unless you’re living in that world every day. Formal assessments can help an agency identify how newer technology might help their work flow and service while spelling out what implementation might require in terms of costs, staff time and training.
We’re reluctant to recommend any single firm to do this work because nonprofit agencies vary so much in terms of size and sophistication. But several technology consultants have told us they’re interested in this work. If you already have an outside firm serving your technology needs, you might want to check with them first. If you still need ideas, we would suggest contacting other agencies.
Yes. If you have recently completed a technology assessment, your agency can submit an implementation grant. You’ll be asked to include the assessment with your request. We strongly advise applicants speak with a staff member before submitting an implementation grant request.
You have a distinct advantage in this process. But keep in mind that we’re looking for a more formal assessment of technology needs and opportunities, not just incremental improvements. Your in-house person may or may not be able to step back and take this broader view, given the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.
This is a new program for us, and we’re feeling our way. Our instincts are that a full-blown technology assessment will be needed at least every three years. Ideally, this will become a regular practice even without future funding from The Frist Foundation. In terms of implementation, some grants may have to be done in phases. We’ll have to look at those on a case-by-case basis.
Implementation grant requests of at least $25,000 are considered at quarterly board meetings, which typically take place in January, April, July and October. So depending on when you submit a request, it could take as long as three months to hear back. Technology grant requests below that amount are usually decided within four weeks once all questions are answered.
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