TechSoup Global Cutting Staff, Reorganizing

October 17, 2012       Patrick Sullivan      

TechSoup Global is undergoing a reorganization that will result in fewer staff positions and a change in strategy for the technology product distribution nonprofit.

Co-CEO Marie Webb declined to calls those losing their jobs “a layoff.” She also declined to provide any specifics on how many positions were eliminated, although insiders told The NonProfit Times it might be as much as 10 percent of the headquarters staff.

Webb would not discuss the positions eliminated, if any new positions will be created and how exactly eliminating the positions will enable the organization to better carry out its mission.

The reduction in staff, she said, “were HR events and we treat them with confidence,” adding that San Francisco, Calif.-based TechSoup Global is still talking about the final structure and she wishes to protect employees’ privacy. Webb did not give details on what the new organizational structure will look like, saying the organization will have a more concrete idea of the structure after November 1.

“We announced a restructuring of the organization that included elimination of positions,” said Webb. “We decided they’re not needed in the new structure of the organization. We’ve structured the organization to help move us forward on the opportunities before us while continuing to build upon programs already in place.”

Said Webb, “Layoffs imply that we need the positions, we’ve eliminated them and we may open them back up in the future. That’s not what is happening,” she said. “This is not financially driven.”

According to the organization’s most recent federal Form 990 for the fiscal year ending June 2011, revenue was up by about $5 million to $28 million and revenue less expenses was nearly $3 million, up from a $64,720 loss in the prior year.

“These kinds of changes are difficult for an organization that cares a lot about these individuals,” said Webb. “But even with that difficulty, I believe, and the management team believes, we are doing the right thing to be able to deliver in the way to make good on the opportunities before us.”

The organization is best known for receiving donations of software from major manufacturers and distributing them to qualifying nonprofits for an administration fee. But, according to Webb, TechSoup has been undergoing a strategy shift for the past two years. “We want to deliver not just the same thing we’re doing but better, but deliver new services in new ways and lower barriers to partnering with us,” she said. “We’ve been increasingly looking at and talking about data services,” she said. The organization still earns the vast majority of its revenue, about $23.9 million in FYE June 2011, in software handling fees.

And, the handling of those donations changes significantly as more and more products are transitioned to being web-based, so-called cloud computing.

Product donation will still be “incredibly important” to TechSoup, said Webb, but it’s only one aspect of TechSoup’s mission. She pointed to NGOsource, a collaboration with the Council on Foundations that aims to streamline the process of equivalency determination for international grants, as an example of the sort of programs the nonprofit wants to focus on. Equivalency determinations are used by U.S.-based grantmakers to evaluate foreign grantees. NGOsource is expected to launch in 2013. Webb also said that the results of TechSoup’s 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey further informed the strategy.

“One of the things we saw (in the survey’s results) was a real need to develop solutions to better meet business needs of organizations. We believe in that and want to be better organized to deliver solutions, not just products,” said Webb.