Benetech’s Communities are the Engines that Power Our Work

By Benetech, posted on

Thank you to all of the volunteers and community members who advance our software for social good mission

“Do your little bit of good wherever you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” –Desmond Tutu

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes and contribute in a myriad of ways. At Benetech, we rely on an army of volunteers, advisors, mentors, ambassadors, experts, working groups, and community leaders to help us achieve our mission, which is to empower communities by creating scalable technology solutions. Without their collective expertise and skills, the reach and impact of our work would not be as great.

This week, National Volunteer Week, is an opportunity to recognize the tremendous contribution that our communities and volunteers have made to our programs and initiatives. Benetech would like to thank the 1,828 volunteers and community members who gave 8,965 hours of their time, talent, voices, and support to accelerate our cause in 2016.

Let’s take a moment to recognize some of the most significant contributions:

Benetech Labs develops new technology solutions to address urgent challenges

Benetech Labs explores new opportunities by engaging with communities, other technologists, and nonprofits to identify and prototype new solutions that Benetech can scale in order to achieve lasting social impact. In 2016:

  • 96 members of the DIAGRAM Center community collaborated at 28 events and took on 4 new projects.
  • 200 Code Alliance tech volunteers worked on 49 nonprofit partner projects.
  • 21 user testing volunteers evaluated image description training.

Bookshare is the world’s largest library of accessible ebooks

Bookshare started as a community program that connected blind and visually impaired members so they could share scanned books with each other. Now, thanks to dedicated volunteers and our publisher partners, Bookshare has over 545,000 books in its collection for people who cannot read standard print. In 2016:

  • 152 volunteers scanned and proofed 280,882 pages in 602 books.
  • 799 mentor teachers from 49 states, Washington, D.C., and 19 countries provided peer support and best practices to other educators.
  • 167 parent ambassadors from 37 states and 7 countries provided peer support and advice to parents.

Human Rights Program provides software and training to human rights defenders 

Benetech’s Human Rights Program supports  human rights defenders so they can safely gather and store sensitive data. An integral part of developing and implementing these solutions is working hand in hand with a global community of human rights organizations and experts. In 2016:

  • 12-member Advisory Board provided expertise in the areas of activism, research, journalism, law, technology, and philanthropy to guide our work in the face of global challenges
  • Volunteers translated Martus into 10 languages
  • 14 volunteers beta tested two software prototypes designed for human rights defenders
  • 367 volunteers implemented versions of open source software projects in non-English speaking locations

These communities help Benetech harness innovation and bridge the social sector and Silicon Valley to maximize positive social impact.  We are grateful for all of the volunteers who helped us tackle tough challenges and create meaningful change for underserved populations.

Are you a volunteer? Pat yourself on the back. Do you know a volunteer who made a difference? Thank them today. Do you want to become a Benetech volunteer? We hope you will join us.