What we do
We help social change leaders understand what tech can and can’t do, and build the tech solutions behind solving a social problem.
Our Current Projects
Tech Matters is dedicated to building the Tech for Good Field through better use of software and data to greatly increase the effectiveness of the entire social sector. Our mission is to enable social impact organizations to do far more for the 95% of humanity who do not typically receive the benefits of technology.
We are helping the crisis response helpline movement triple the number of people they help each year, without significantly growing their costs. By building Aselo, a modern, open source contact center platform in partnership with Child Helpline International, which represents 167 child helplines in 140 countries, we expect to serve more than 100 million children each year. And, we’re already expanding into adjacent crisis response areas, such as Internet hotlines for online abuse and gender-based violence helplines.
We are the technology partner in an ambitious global collaboration called 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People. We want to help local leaders in landscapes (ecosystems) everywhere fulfill their aspirations for a sustainable future. Our part of that is providing the data and software tools they need to plan, finance, and track their progress.
How We Do What We Do
We have a “karmic consulting practice” as part of our tech for good field building work. We actually aren’t a consulting firm, but we do several calls a week with nonprofit leaders, donors, and policymakers. From hundreds of calls, we have found a few of the most exciting social enterprise opportunities. That’s where our Aselo and Terraso projects came from: great social sector leaders identifying an opportunity for systems change where a new tech solution would be crucial. Here’s a short list of the key elements of our approach:
At least half of the problems identified by social sector leaders are not solvable by technology. Applying great technology to a broken human system only gets you to broken faster. One of the most important roles we play in the social innovation ecosystem is talking people out of bad ideas, whether it’s an expensive app nobody will use, a magical blockchain solution, or machine learning that depends on data that’s not being collected, or was thrown away.
Listening for True Tech for Good Opportunities
Tech people are (in)famous for proposing solutions to social problems they don’t understand (“Global education? How hard can that be?”). We use the gold standard of best practices in tech design, which means that we start by listening to and learning from the people we want to help. We know all the right buzzwords (lean, agile, canvas, human-centered design), but more importantly, we also know how and when to apply them to help real humans solve real problems.
Battle the Cult of the Custom
No modern restaurant, golf course or dentist’s office builds their own software today. Yet, many nonprofits of similar sizes insist that they are unique, and spend too much money building customized solutions which fail to meet expectations. We are not interested in building one-off tech projects: we’re looking to help thousands of organizations band together to create platforms which cost less to adopt and operate, and do far more to advance a social mission.
Invite Leaders into Our Time Machine
The tech and business communities are typically 15 years ahead of the nonprofit community in their use of technology for improving productivity, engagement and outreach. Once we understand the tech needs of a group addressing a social problem, odds are extremely good that their problem has already been solved with existing, often inexpensive tech that we can easily adapt to address their needs.
Create Common Ground for Transformative Systems Change Solutions
It can sometimes be difficult for nonprofits to come together to build a shared tech solution. Funding pressures, lack of time, and a desire to be seen as a pioneer can hinder much-needed collaboration. We have experience working with social sector leaders to create powerful opportunities for collaborative tech initiatives that can enhance progress by individual NGOs as well as by the field as a whole.