Rebecca Masisak, TechSoup CEO:

TechSoup Global Network: A Unique Force for Social Change

This week, NGOs from 50 countries, who operate together as the TechSoup Global Network, will gather for three days in San Francisco. Collectively, the Network connects over 800,000 NGOs in 236 countries and territories to donations of products, services, time and funding, and helps more than 150 technology companies, foundations, corporations, and philanthropists scale their philanthropic programs.

Over the past 10 years, this group has delivered more than $7.6 billion worth of resources to support causes as diverse as refugee integration, gender issues, youth development, education, arts, and social services.

Here in San Francisco, 90 individuals from the TechSoup Global Network will work together to reflect on the political, social, and economic challenges in the world. They will chart a path for how a global nonprofit technology social enterprise can create even more impact in the next decade.

As the political climate around the world rapidly changes, and as governments diminish their role as guardians of societal welfare, civil society will be increasingly called upon to fill the gaps. Indeed, in response to need, civil society is steadily expanding.(1)

But it is also increasingly challenged and, in many countries, threatened. Across the globe, civil society organizations struggle with increased regulations, decreased resources, and, more and more often, direct threats to their existence and to the safety of their staff.

The TechSoup Global Network has a mission to build a dynamic bridge that leverages technology to enable connections and innovative solutions for a more equitable planet. We imagine a world where social change agents from all walks of life can fully access the profound power of technology and a connected world. Now more than ever, our work will help to ensure that gaps created by government action or inaction do not serve to harm our most vulnerable populations.

We are proud to affirm that we strongly believe in fostering and strengthening a globally connected world. To that end, partners in the Network are selected based on common values that transcend geography — inclusion, diversity, peer-to-peer learning, and creation of social impact based on social justice principles.

We believe that strengthening the civil society community is the best option for addressing the anxiety and sense of displacement that is spreading across the globe. And we remain strongly against policies that discriminate against groups of people based on categories like ethnicity, ancestry, or religion. This set of beliefs is core to everything we do.

To manifest our shared values in action, we commit to amplifying existing work and starting new projects in the following areas:

  1. Data security and privacy education for NGOs, activists, and citizens
  2. Playing a role in the global data security infrastructure, particularly to ensure NGOs and civil society as stakeholders are represented
  3. Net neutrality advocacy
  4. Immigrant and refugee support
  5. Bringing visibility to groups who may be under attack or may need support in opening dialogue or finding others working in similar areas around the world

Tolerance, diversity, and fairness are the cornerstones of our approach.  We wish to counter the lack of healthy dialogue and the lack of trust in media that is evident in today’s climate.

We will continue to prioritize freedom of belief, expression, and due process, regardless of what the political or cultural climate brings. And we remain committed to listening to and learning from each other, in order to create a more just world for all of us.

We eagerly look forward to the upcoming exchange with our partners. We look forward to sharing ideas about how we can best navigate ever-narrowing democratic spaces in an increasingly digital and connected world.

From March 28 (Pacific time zone) follow #TSGNSummit

 


1 Organizations of the type the TechSoup Global Network serves already represent one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the world. According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, in the United States alone, the sector accounts for over 10 percent of total private employment. It employs the third largest workforce among U.S. industries, behind only retail trade and manufacturing. In addition, it is adding employment at a rate that exceeds that of the country’s for-profit business sector. Although this data is not always readily available for other countries, we see signs of similar trends.

The message was firstly published on www.techsoup.org