Next Step in National Nonprofit ICT Coalition
Monday, 18th June 2007 at 3:39 pm
Moves to establish a National Nonprofit ICT Coalition are making slow but determined efforts within the Third Sector.
In 2006, the Dept of Communications, IT and the Arts (DCITA) commissioned a report on the possibility of establishing a National Nonprofit ICT Coalition (NNIC), to improve the information and communications technology (ICT) capacity of Australia’s nonprofits.
A consortium led by Community Information Strategies Australia (CISA) conducted research, consultations and a survey of around 1,000 Australian Not for Profits and submitted their report in October 2006.
The report recommends a 3STEP (3rd Sector Technology Expansion Program) process for developing Not for Profit ICT capacity (involving government, business, philanthropy and the sector) and it was officially released by Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, at the CISA Connecting Up conference in May 2007.
During her speech the Minister announced she was placing the issue of Not for Profit ICT capacity development on the agenda of the Online and Communications Council (i.e. Federal and State IT Ministers) on 29 June.
(You can download a copy of the report from www.communit.info (click on the NNIC tab) and hear the Minister’s speech by clicking on the Connecting Up tab.)
The Report’s Executive Summary says Australia needs a new model to meet the challenges for Not for Profit ICT capacity development.
The aim is to create direct improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to Australian society, with particular advantages in the community services, health, education, employment services sectors and in rural and regional areas.
The Report says the sector has reached a ‘tipping point’. Its attitudes towards, and ambitions for, substantially improved capability in the use of ICT is now recognised as critical.
The 3STEPmodel will create a national, networked, project-oriented organisation that pulls together the resources it needs to address all the dimensions of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. An independent organisation, sustained by ongoing contributions from the corporate, philanthropic and Federal and State government sectors aims to deliver focused projects and pilots directed at ICT needs, regions or sub-sectors.
Its three primary goals are:
– Encourage Not for Profits to take responsibility for a strategic approach to ICT capacity development within their own organisation.
– Develop major strategic investment by corporate and philanthropic organisations and Federal and state government, and the sector itself, to support ICT capacity.
– Link the Not for Profit sector into policy debates about the potential of technology to impact Australia’s social, environmental and economic development.
CISA CEO, Dough Jacquier says while the time frame for implementing stage 1 has slowed from the original plan for the 3STEP, some progress has already been made.
Jacquier says that earlier this year DCITA released funds to CISA to pilot one of the recommendations in the 3STEP report – executive development workshops in ICT strategic planning.
He says the highly experienced US Not for Profit IT consultant, John Kenyon, worked with a local advisory group to develop and present these workshops to over 40 NFP executives and managers in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.
He says the workshops were a great success and CISA will be recommending further funding for workshops and other programs to assist the Not for Profit sector.
Step 1 of 3STEP is to set up the organisation by securing further funding, fine-tuning the operational arrangements, including establishing the Program Steering Group, and further developing the initial project plans.
During Step 2 of 3STEP (July 2007-June2009) the Program Steering Group will recruit three officers who will implement project-based activities which include:
– Building an ongoing and active network of third sector organisations with an interest in ICT capacity development
– Mapping of existing and required ICT needs and support required by NFPs in urban and regional Australia
– Developing system of endorsement of suppliers of ICT services to NFPs.
– Ensuring an ICT resource site for NFPs.
– Establishing an executive briefing centre to upgrade the strategic ICT planning skills of boards and senior management
– Researching the measurable impact of improved ICT capacity on Not for Profit service delivery and community outcomes.
– Preparing a plan for a long-term investment fund for Not for Profit ICT capacity development and the mechanisms for its development and management.
– Implementation and development of projects to support Not for Profits such as ICT health checks/assessment programs, Circuit riders, ICT volunteering, ICT training and development.
Step 3 of 3STEP (July 2009 onwards) is the creation of an independent body to continue the work and manage the development of ICT Capacity in the Not for Profit sector into the future.