By Amy Wagner of MAP and Laura Quinn of Idealware
MAP is working on an exciting research project to pave the way for nonprofits to use technology for service innovation in a manner that advances their missions. Our partner in this work is Idealware, a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits make smart software decisions.
We’re embarking on some detailed research, including a survey, interviews and in-depth case studies to understand how human service organizations are using technology to innovate and improve their service delivery — and the factors that help them succeed in this area.
Just from our background research, it’s clear that organizations are doing really interesting things. Many of them, in fact, aren’t particularly expensive to implement. For instance:
- Food shelves are using ID cards with a bar code to quickly check people in and out.
- Caseworkers in the field are entering case notes via laptop, PDA, smart phone, or even by calling a service that will then transcribe the notes.
- Homeless shelters are using service data to identify homeless clients who could be served more cost effectively by simply renting them an apartment.
- Organizations serving similar communities are coming together to agree on shared indicators and then pooling their data to understand and improve all of their services.
- Children in foster care are “virtually visiting” with their caseworker via Skype.
- Homebound seniors are using the internet to connect to each other and their doctors — supporting their ability to live longer in their own homes.
- Legal service organizations are producing and sharing videos to help inform clients about important topics.
- Organizations are using social media and online outreach methods to recruit more foster parents.
We’re excited to continue our research – especially to identify approaches, examples and tools that are straightforward to implement and likely to be effective for many different organizations.
This research was made possible by a generous contribution from the ADC Foundation. We expect to release the complete results of our work in early 2011.