Delta.NYC was a pro bono tech pilot program that Civic Hall ran from the fall of 2016 to the spring of 2018. The goal of Delta.NYC was twofold:

  1. To research and pilot a model of pro bono tech that addressed the pain points of existing solutions in the market; and
  2. To build a more tech-forward public interest sector and a more civically-engaged, empathetic tech sector that work together to address complex social challenges.

While active, Delta.NYC brought together 200+ digital professionals to execute short-term projects for 40 public interest organizations in NYC. The program facilitated over $1 million in value through pro bono tech, and hosted 12+ events that brought together an intersection of technologists and nonprofit professionals. 

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Before we dreamt up what a pro bono tech model might look like, we spent about 6 months doing an incredible amount of research. We interviewed nonprofits, existing pro bono/volunteer intermediaries and technologists to understand their challenges in this space. A number of themes emerged, including but not limited to:

  • Good technology is never built by one person
  • Organizations do not always know what to ask for or what they need
  • A high amount of technical debt is usually encountered during a project
  • There are severe differences in language and culture between sectors
  • Volunteer burnout is almost inevitable in the long-term
  • One-on-one matching is a big risk for organizations to take

Learn more about what we uncovered here.
 

PROGRAM MODEL

Using this information, we put together a program model meant to address each of these pain points, which you can read more about here.

Program Model

In order to test the robustness of the program, we took on projects that varied considerably in range — digital marketing, web and mobile design & development, IT and cyber security, data, and tech operations. 

IMPACT

Through the course of the program, we found that although each project produced a set of concrete deliverables for our public interest organizations, community building and the other “side effects” of pro bono tech were similarly important in producing long-term value.

Some of the outcomes of our work:

The project deliverables that our teams produced will create real impact for our organizational partners. In surveying our partners on the type of impact that their deliverables will have on their organizations:

  • 72% reported short-term impact
  • 94% reported mid-term impact
  • 100% reported long-term impact

Participating in pro bono tech provided learnings to nonprofit partners to help build a more tech-forward nonprofit sector:

  • 94% reported that the Delta.NYC experience provided significant learnings to the staff, and 89% reported an improved understanding for how technology can impact their organization
  • 67% reported feeling more prepared after the program to ask their organization or board for additional resources to dedicate to digital needs, and 72% reported feeling more prepared to ask foundations for funding around digital/technical projects.

Participating in Delta.NYC helped to build a more empathetic, civically engaged tech sector:

  • 90% of digital professionals said their interest in the social impact space increased through the program
  • 80% of digital professionals reported developing greater empathy and understanding for nonprofit organizations

Delta.NYC created more channels for productive collaboration between public interest organizations and digital professionals

  • 87% of digital professionals planned to offer their expertise and time to their organizational partner after the Delta.NYC program concluded
  • 67% of organizations felt more prepared to leverage the skills of volunteers who were digital professionals in the future