By Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope
Today, I am closing my NetHope chapter. While my husband and I had been having this conversation for many months, when I told Farhan in early January, it was bittersweet. But as I look back over my years at NetHope, I’m grateful for all that we have accomplished together.
When I joined NetHope in 2014, I was excited to build upon a strong foundation and to take the organization in a new direction to address the changing needs of our members and our partners. And build we did: since then, we’ve welcomed 19 new members (DCA, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, DRC, FUPAD, GOAL, HIAS, Marie Stopes, MCC, Medair, Médecins sans Frontièrs, Mercy Ships, MTI, NRC, Operational Smile, PCI, ProMujer, Right 2 Play, Team Rubicon, The Carter Center), including our first Global South members. We’ve deepened our reach into member organizations, with our active member contacts growing five-fold. Our Summit has grown from 150 participants in 2014 to nearly 700 just a few months ago.
Our partner base has grown as well. Microsoft has grown its support meaningfully and consistently. We’ve added Facebook, Google, AWS, Salesforce, Avanade Okta and OracleNetSuite—along with countless other smaller companies—to our stable of committed partners. And with the advent of the Center for the Digital Nonprofit, we set a new benchmark for how our partners view their work with NetHope and its centrality to their engagement with the sector.
And we have focused, relentlessly, on providing benefits to members. Since 2014, we’ve returned over $83 million to members in real value through software donations, hardware discounts, shared connectivity, professional development and pass-through grants. We’ve revitalized our working groups, and now have active chapters on six continents. We’ve responded to natural disasters, epidemics and conflict in every corner of the world, guided governments on telecom policy, empowered women with new entrepreneurial skills, built civic participation with Middle Eastern youth, helped young adults build IT careers, and advanced financial inclusion for underserved communities. As our work has grown, we’ve expanded our conversations from the IT department to across the organization, engaging program leads, HR teams, and executive leadership as we continue to focus on collaboration and partnership to advance our sector.
Through it all, I’ve had the pleasure to work with a great staff. From four employees to more than 20 today, we represent a remarkable diversity of backgrounds, expertise and talent. Fully half of our staff is women; we are a rich mix of ethnicities, religions, geographies, and cultures. We hail from government, nonprofits, technology, healthcare, media, and philanthropy—and despite our varied backgrounds and geographical dispersion, we’re a committed bunch of folks: we’ve had remarkably little turnover over the last several years.
There’s always highs and lows in every job, and transitions are never easy. But there’s no doubt in my mind that I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with each of our team, our members, and our partners. I am confident that the organization has many more achievements in its future, and I look forward to cheering the organization onward and upwards in the future.