Moments ago, I sent the below email to all TechSoup staff across all our offices. I also wanted to share this email with you, our community of stakeholders, so that you have both a better understanding of the tough decisions we had to communicate today and a view into TechSoup’s focus as we move into 2024 and beyond.
Our mission remains the same: To build a dynamic bridge that leverages technology to enable connections and innovative solutions for a more equitable planet. We will continue to stand by your side. We will live up to the trust that you have placed in us to support your organization’s technology needs. And together we will make civil society stronger.
The email we sent to staff is reprinted in its entirety below. I am confident that the tough decisions we had to make will prepare us to meet the evolving needs of civil society in a rapidly changing technology landscape.
As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to engage with us.
This email announces a restructuring of TechSoup to better meet our mission in the face of technology changes, evolving community needs, and to right-size our expenses to better match our income.
Please read on for important announcements about organizational changes that will go into effect over the next few days.
Numerous times in TechSoup’s history, we have adapted to significant changes in technology and philanthropy models, adjusting our programs and business models to meet the evolving needs and limited means of nonprofits and civil society. We were fortunate to have investors and funders to support the investments required and the time to adjust our operating expenses. The pace of external change has accelerated, and in order to survive the simultaneous impacts of business model change and global economic headwinds – we need to restructure and emerge as a more focused organization that can more efficiently serve the needs of our non-profit community. We’ve done our best to transform as fast and effectively as possible – building new capabilities and programs, reskilling staff, and replacing positions opened by staff departures with new, forward-looking positions. It is now necessary for us to restructure and reduce our operating expenses. We play a vital role in the civil society sector and we must ensure that we sustainably provide the most important services to that sector.
Our commitment to civil society requires us to position ourselves for success in a world of accelerating change in technology. We need to do more than solving the problem of affordable access to tech – we need to also support the challenges in adoption, skills, and optimization. We need to help sector organizations bring their data and stories to the field as well as their insights to the most pressing social issues. And, in a world where tech can contribute to weapons and war as easily as it can contribute to democracy and humanity, we need to support local civil society by convening and giving a voice to vulnerable communities. It is imperative that we continue to shift our programmatic center from a ‘product donation model’ to a ‘marketplace of discovery and exchange’, fueled by collaboration and community models.
Across all TechSoup programs last year, we connected a record number of civil society organizations – 302,000 in 216 countries with over $2.4 billion in resources. And we supported this scale of impact even as we weathered a reduction of $11.5M in annual earned revenues due to shifts in the philanthropic models of some of our largest marketplace donors.
It was possible to deliver critical new programs because we engaged with our most important stakeholders – other NGOs and civil society actors – to drive our program strategies. We had incredible support from our social impact investors and donors and from a network of collaborators. This investment, over the last five years, built the infrastructure for our newer programs. Growing year over year in fiscal year 2023 by more than 30 percent, these programs will be an increasingly central part of TechSoup’s work and impact as we move forward.
While we see the promise of engaging organizations in new sustainable ways, such as memberships, and new grant opportunities made stronger by our investment in global grants management and delivery, unfortunately, the positive growth areas are not sufficient to cover our current cost structure. The reality is that the net financial effect of the changes has been significant losses in recent years. This is not a position we can continue to sustain.
To be in the best position to continue to meet the needs of the millions of civil society organizations and their beneficiaries around the world as well as the funders who depend on us, we are making difficult decisions so that we better match our income and expenses:
- We will restructure: Restructuring will help us change our focus, combine functions, eliminate programs, streamline systems and operational processes. These efficiency gains will make it possible for us to operate with fewer staff and lower costs. We must align our program priorities to where we have support. We will restructure to align our cost structure with our income and where we see opportunity to pursue our mission with the highest potential for impact that is also supported by either an earned revenue model, a grant model or both.
Today, we are announcing changes that will eliminate roles and result in approximately a 15% reduction in staff across our global operations. Notifications to individuals directly impacted will be made today and tomorrow. The TechSoup leadership team and I are committed to going through this process in the most thoughtful and transparent way. Within our limited means, we are doing all we can to support these difficult transitions well. Everyone who has been part of our history is and will remain special to us and recognized for the incredible contributions they have made to TechSoup’s success to date.
- We will focus: We will continue to invest in strategic areas, allocating both our capital and talent to membership and subscription programs, as well as grant delivery. We will divest of programs which the market has not embraced in a way or at a level that can be sustainable. We will continue to build on the new areas we have established, including our marketplace, philanthropy-enabling services like NGOsource and other data services, hardware and value-added services, and grant projects to help our community learn about and responsibly use AI and emerging technologies. While we will eliminate roles we cannot sustain, we may also need to continue to hire in key areas.
- We will support each other during these changes: We are committed to treating everyone with compassion and respect during these difficult changes and communicating and acting transparently, while protecting privacy. These decisions are very difficult, but necessary. They are especially difficult because they impact people’s lives. We are committed to ensuring that all those whose roles are eliminated have our full support during these transitions. All impacted staff members are receiving 30 days’ notice, severance pay, and career transition services. For US employees, an additional month of health care coverage beyond employment will be provided. Benefits for staff members outside the U.S. will align with the appropriate employment laws and contract laws.
Many of you have heard me foreshadow over the past few years that the moment would come where ‘right-sizing’ our organization to better set us up for sustainability and success in the next period would be necessary. Even so, nothing can really make one ready to part with many wonderful and dedicated colleagues. I feel as optimistic about our future as I have ever felt – what we do every day is truly of value to so many who depend upon us, and we consistently see new opportunities to deepen our impact and build on the 36-year history of this organization.
And while I am confident that these changes are the right ones to make to ensure that TechSoup continues to positively impact civil society, it is never an easy decision to eliminate jobs or say goodbye to dear colleagues. Our people are and always will be the heartbeat of TechSoup.