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June 15, 2005
United Way CTO Fires Salvo at Fundraising Patents
Michael Schreiber, head tech over at the United Way of America, has published a scathing editorial about the nasty impact that business method patents could have on the future of non-profit/community service organizations:
Consider what the future looks like for nonprofits operating in a landscape where activities as important and efficient as online fundraising are patented by one company or even a few companies. Nonprofits face a few scenarios, and none of them are good:
- Divert a greater percentage of every dollar raised to cover license fees just to operate money that previously was earmarked for and still needs to go to programs and services making a positive difference in the lives of constituents.
- Settle for other, less effective and efficient technology solutions to avoid the higher cost of patented solutions as well as the threat of being sued.
This certainly is not how donors envision their contributions being used. Donors do care how their money is leveraged to achieve sustainable societal change.
Nonprofit organizations exist to address complex social, environmental, and educational challenges. The last thing we need is another structural impediment like business method patents that could seriously distract us from the creation of tangible and sustainable change in our communities.
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