We asked Jodi Martin, Executive Director of Information Technology Exchange (ITE), seven questions about her work in Maine. Here's what she said...
March is National Frozen Food Month—what’s your favorite frozen food?
My guilty pleasure is chocolate ice cream. Thornton Wilder said, “My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate.”
What conversation do you wish funders and nonprofits were having more often?
The conversation I wish funders and nonprofits were having more often would be about collaboration. Funders are privy to information that no one else knows. They are trying to help everyone but able to realistically only help a few. If they could pair nonprofits and help those nonprofits to work together by being able to share resources or tools, more nonprofits can get the help they need. Nonprofits need to be less proprietary.
At Information Technology Exchange (ITE), we collaborate with another nonprofit, Skills Inc. Skills Inc. runs eWaste Alternatives, an electronics recycling program here in Maine. This program employs individuals with disabilities in their mission to yield usable technology for ITE. This technology is then refurbished and made available to other nonprofits and individuals at a low cost through a program called PCs for Maine. If a request for technology is sent to a foundation or organization, that request can be fulfilled by ITE. In contracting ITE to fill such request, that organization would be playing a role in supporting three nonprofits, not just one. Since technology purchased from ITE is significantly less expensive when compared to the cost of brand new equipment, funders’ or nonprofits’ dollars can go further.
The ITE team. Left to right, back row: Calvin (Ecomm Manager), Monica (Accounts Representative), Barry (Customer Support), Mike (Imaging and Shipping). Front row: Dorothy (CFO), Jodi (ED) and Victoria (Technician).
What challenge have you been grappling with lately?
Lately, our biggest challenge has been getting the word out about what ITE can do for other nonprofits. If there is a 501(c)3 organization in need of computer equipment, ITE’s mission is to help. Communication between nonprofits is minimal, and this has been a roadblock to achieving our goals. We have heard “it’s too good to be true” when we tell a client the cost of equipment through the PCs for Maine program and, indeed, we love being able to say it is true. Accomplishing tasks with limited to no funds while understaffed is the norm for any nonprofit, but 21st-century tools are a necessity, and we want it to be easier for every nonprofit to have access to them.
What are you most excited about in your work right now?
In January of 2016, we received an exciting donation from the National Christina Foundation. This gift is valued at around $27,800 and was made up of excellent computers that are immediately being prepared to go home to hundreds of people and nonprofit organizations. Without the need to purchase any hardware, the computers can be loaded with an Operating System and sent to their new owners. Since the cost to us is only in labor for the software, we can provide some machines at no cost at all to some nonprofits and families- and that is an incredible feeling for ITE.
Funding for technology is a challenge for all nonprofits, even when technology is at the heart of your mission. ITE is a self-sustaining nonprofit, making use of the storefront PC Medix to fund all of our work. The receipt of such a generous donation provided a motivating start to the new year.
What’s one thing you’ve learned recently?
I am ITE’s executive director. Currently, I am in the Maine Development Foundation’s (MDF) Leadership Maine program. MDF takes the participant on a transformational journey through this course. This program nurtures professional attitudes, an understanding of personal strengths, and appreciation for the innovation that is needed to stimulate new initiatives within our great state. While I knew I had a lot to learn, I didn’t realize how much I lacked in my knowledge of the realm in which we work.
What do you value most about being an MPC member?
A highlight of MPC is that true philanthropy is the soul of the community. While not tangible, the results of compassion being the driving force behind MPC is unmistakable, and it wouldn’t be what it is without that characteristic. MPC serves as a bridge between funders and nonprofits, and that role is paramount. Whenever I have questions, large or small, MPC is always ready for them with sensible solutions, great advice, and vital assistance. My take away from being an MPC member, in conjunction with my work in Leadership Maine, is this: nonprofits are there for each other, as well as the communities we serve. In working together, we can accomplish our goals even more effectively and, thrillingly, create new goals that will propel the world of 501(c)3 organizations into the 21st century.
What one thing do you wish people knew about your organization or mission?
Information Technology Exchange (ITE) isn’t just a resource for computers. We provide educational classes, and we support every end user with any technical support and solutions they may need. All of ITE’s equipment deployed or sold is at a high business-class standard, with a full warranty.
At ITE, we aim to help everyone meet their goals.
PC’s for Maine has a new donation program call Give IT/Get IT. For nonprofits that have no budget for technology, this program provides a way to obtain it. ITE will promote that charitable organization and gather individual donations in support of technology access. If you would like more information about Give IT/Get IT (or any of our programs), visit us at www.pcsformaine.org. Check out how we are accomplishing our mission to provide affordable access to technology!