To the Editor:

Findings from the recent survey of nonprofit leaders by Connect Humanity are a clear call for better coordination among governments, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropy to advance digital inclusion.

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s coverage of the survey, Christopher Worman, co-founder and chief partnership and strategy officer at Connect Humanity, described the necessity of digital access in stark terms. People will “miss a meal rather than lose access to the internet because they need the internet to figure out their next three meals,” he said.

Yet most of the organizations surveyed said that many of the people they serve continue to face significant barriers to digital access, including the cost and availability of internet service, unreliable access to digital devices other than cellphones, and lack of training and support to use digital tools safely and effectively.

Digital exclusion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For individuals and families without digital access, it’s becoming harder to succeed in or even attend school, maintain or improve health, realize economic mobility, and more. And persistent digital inequities hamper the efforts of nonprofits and philanthropic organizations working to address a wide range of challenges.

So how do we solve the problem underscored by Connect Humanity’s survey and get closer to a world where digital access is no longer a race in which some are way ahead, while millions more have no way to catch up?


Rather than using a piecemeal approach, digital equity can be reached by promoting collaboration and intentionally integrating digital inclusion efforts into existing programs and services.

At Tech Goes Home, the organization I lead, we’ve found success working hand-in-hand with nonprofits to provide support for digital inclusion alongside the services they offer people every day. Organizations supporting seniors, for example, can use Tech Goes Home programming to offer internet, a digital device, and training on making a telehealth appointment or ordering prescriptions online. This not only increases digital access but helps improve health outcomes that might be central to the nonprofit’s mission.

Make no mistake: It’s welcome news that grant makers plan to increase their investment in digital access work over the next five years, as the Chronicle piece points out. But closing persistent digital divides will require leveraging that funding to reach those who have been historically excluded from digital access, such as older adults, low-income people, and people who are Black, Indigenous, or communities of color.

Sustainable digital inclusion can’t happen if it’s an afterthought, just as progress on housing, education, health, and more can’t happen if organizations try to work around digital barriers rather than addressing them head on. That much is clear from the Connect Humanity survey. Through the support of organizations experienced in expanding digital access, nonprofits can connect needed resources with people in need — but only if they treat digital inclusion as a fundamental part of their mission.

Dan Noyes
Tech Goes Home