What social nonprofits can teach the corporate world
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The City of Oakland was struggling to respond to requests for public records. Without an effective tracking system, staff duplicated work, and slow responses created tension with residents.
In San Francisco, recipients of food assistance often lost benefits and had to reapply, burdening staff and causing personal crises for needy families.
In 2013, both cities solved these problems by working with Fellows from Code for America (CfA) to build applications that made better use of the data they already had.
Nonprofits, social enterprises, and civic organizations have long had to do more with less and master the art of influence without power. In some ways, they are ahead of most other organizations in developing the ability to work within the type of flexible, ever-changing network of partners that will become more common in the coming years.
As a nonprofit, CfA has mobilized a network of thousands of volunteers, government officials, civic organizations, and entrepreneurs in cities across the U.S. to improve city life through code. Among their projects: providing real-time access to mass transit arrival times, making it easier for small businesses to navigate local policies, generating flood risk maps to help citizens stay safe, giving residents visibility and input into land-use planning, and putting health inspections on restaurants’ Yelp reviews.