Benetech is the world’s original tech nonprofit with a mission to empower communities by creating scalable technology solutions.
Technology has the potential to improve the lives of people around the world. Benetech tackles social challenges that for-profit tech companies often don’t address. Benetech bridges the gap between Silicon Valley and the social sector to create positive social change, primarily in the areas of global literacy, human rights and the environment. The software solutions they develop enable the social sector to make better use of data to inform decision-making and evaluate performance – they call that data for action and impact. Their work has transformed how over 500,000 people with disabilities read, made it safer for human rights defenders in over 50 countries to document violations and equipped environmental conservationists to protect ecosystems and species all over the world.
One of Benetech’s signature initiatives is Bookshare, the largest online library for people with disabilities like blindness, low vision, learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Before Bookshare, only 5% of printed materials were accessible to people with disabilities. Today, Bookshare’s more than 475,000 subscribers have access to more than 550,000 titles in a variety of accessible formats. In addition, Bookshare has delivered over 10,000,000 accessible ebooks through partnerships with over 850 publishers, libraries, nonprofits that serve individuals with disabilities, school districts across the U.S. and organizations like Google.org and World Vision.
Benetech leverages the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial spirit and business discipline to create software that makes the collection of human rights abuse data secure and safe. Martus, Benetech’s open source software application, allows users to securely gather and organize information about human rights violations. Benetech’s human rights program provides support and capacity building to partner organizations including Amnesty International, the Engine Room, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, USAID and local NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa, Guatemala and Burma.
Bentech’s environment focus explores technology solutions to help communities address sustainability challenges. Benetech has developed software that guides planning, incorporates best practices and collects data for improved analysis and impact. For example, Miradi became the leading platform for adaptive conservation project management and has been used in more than 170 countries.
In addition to these initiatives, Benetech strives to be on the forefront of innovation through Benetech Labs, their technology and new product development center. There, they explore areas of need and develop prototypes in collaboration with a wide variety of partners including nonprofits, community leaders, social services referral agencies and other technical experts. Benetech’s Code Alliance initiative bridges Silicon Valley and the social sector by matching technical volunteers with nonprofits who need their expertise.
In 1998, Benetech founder and CEO, Jim Fruchterman, attended SEA’s National Gathering for Social Entrepreneurs and discovered like-minded individuals who shared the vision of applying business acumen to social good. He volunteered to cofound the organization and later served as Board Chair. Benetech became a member in 2003 and has embodied the social enterprise model by using technology to help people in disadvantaged communities for over 28 years.
To learn more about Benetech, check out their member directory profile.