Benetech is a different kind of technology company. They’re a nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions. Their work has transformed how over 425,000 people with disabilities read, made it safer for human rights defenders in over fifty countries to document violations, and equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world. Their Benetech Labs is working on the next big impact.
They’ve assembled a unique team of tech leaders, nonprofit social enterprise change makers, and experts in the fields of human rights, technology, education, and the environment. Their team is committed to bringing the power of technology to bear on today’s most pressing social needs and ensuring that those who would benefit most from technology have access to it.
Benetech empowers communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions.
The Seven Benetech Truths
Benetech has adopted a core set of principles to guide their vision and decision making. They refer to these concepts daily in evaluating their work and their plans for the future.
1. Social Change Through Technology—Benetech is about creating positive social change at scale, and they use technology as the vehicle to drive it. Technology is a great way to get to scale and to reinvent the way people are doing business throughout the social sector. They’re not about profit; they’re about impact.
2. They Get Stuff Done—Benetechies are intensely results focused. They aim high, and then try to exceed their commitments. This means that they fully commit to the fields where they operate, learning as much as they can and following through on their promises. And they measure what they do so that they know they’re getting stuff done.
3. Right Stuff Right—Just three words that convey so much. They ensure that otheir work is up to world-class standards, focus on doing the right thing where they can make the maximum impact, and conduct business in an ethical way. When they’re trying to make a decision about something, the way forward is just so much clearer when someone asks, “Yes, but are they doing the right thing right?”
4. Open Over Proprietary—They’re an open-source organization. Not only their software but also the content they create is almost always available under Creative Commons licenses. And they value transparency. What’s really important is the mission, and they trust that being clear and open will lead to the best possible outcomes. There is information that they do consider highly proprietary: the information shared with them by their users and partners. They’re pragmatic enough to adopt a proprietary approach when they think it’s the best way to accomplish their mission goals, but they always lean toward being open.
5. Partnership Over Going Alone—Benetech’s strength is in developing technology responsive to real-world needs, but they can’t do it alone. In so many areas, they have chosen the partners who have deep knowledge and deep trust networks. Benetech provides what they are missing—the technology development expertise and the connections with top tech communities and companies. Their partnerships result in better ultimate social impact when they’ve built trust with the people with whom they’re working.
6. Value Flexibility—They respect their team and their commitment to do what it takes for social change. As part of that commitment, they prioritize flexibility both for and from their team members. This allows them to do more with less, without sacrificing teamwork and spirit. Their entrepreneurial approach also requires flexibility. When they’re creating something new, it never goes according to plan. They are always alert to better ways to accomplish the social objectives.
7. Personal and Professional Development—They care about the professional development of their staff and foster personal learning, growth and service—whether that’s helping a team member pursue graduate studies, become a better public speaker or deeply understand the challenges their users face. Benetech builds the careers of their team members while they benefit from their service to their mission.