What is a tech nonprofit?

Tech nonprofits look like typical tech startups—they build products using technology—and have selected a nonprofit structure because they are building for impact instead of profit.

What’s Fast Forward’s business model?

Fast Forward is a nonprofit. We raise philanthropic capital from individual donors, foundations, and corporations who are interested in the intersection of tech and good.

How does Fast Forward measure impact?

We track 6 key indicators:

  • Has the accelerator program been trajectory changing for each organization?
  • Have we successfully unlocked new capital for tech nonprofits?
  • Has each organization connected with at least 100 new potential donors?
  • Has each organization connected with at least 10 new institutional funders?
  • Do we see evidence of stronger ties among tech nonprofits?
  • Do we see evidence of stronger ties between our cohorts and the tech community?

We evaluate our impact regularly. Check out our 2019 Impact Report and 5 Year Impact Magazine to learn more.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes. FFWD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and our EIN is 46-4626500.


Will the Accelerator be virtual?

  • Due to COVID-19, we are planning to host this summer’s Accelerator program virtually. We hope to bring the cohort together in person whenever that becomes possible.

What are your selection criteria for the accelerator?

  • Leadership: Tech nonprofits do everything that is hard in a tech startup AND in a nonprofit. To pull it off, the leaders must have steadfast vision and incredible gumption.
  • Tech talent: The tech vision should be the driving force of the organization and not an auxiliary program. To successfully execute that vision, tech talent must be in a leadership role.
  • Potential for Impact: We are interested in both local and global impact. If successful, how many lives will be positively influenced?
  • Scalability: Software scales incredibly well. We support organizations with a vision for change that is matched only by the potential for scale.
  • Diversity: People solve problems in front of them. We want to empower people to solve the problems they see and experience.

Why should we apply to Fast Forward instead of a for-profit tech accelerator?

Fast Forward’s program is designed around the unique needs of tech nonprofits:

  • Capital: Fundraising strategies, including tactics and sources of capital, are different for nonprofits at every stage of the fundraising process than they are for their for-profit peers.
  • Content: Our curriculum is different. While both include a focus on product, scaling, and growth, nonprofits also want to learn about board development, governance, leveraging volunteers, and other issues generally more specific to nonprofits. The knowledge base we’re putting together for tech nonprofits differs substantially from what for-profits would find valuable.
  • Customer: Because of their focus on impact over profit, nonprofits often chase the least profitable customer, which impacts go-to-market strategy and customer lifecycle in a way that’s different from for-profits.
  • Cohort: Entrepreneurship is lonely; tech nonprofit entrepreneurship even more so. Tech nonprofit leaders tell us that because of their nonprofit focus they don’t quite fit into for-profit accelerators, and because of their tech/product focus they don’t quite fit into nonprofit fellowships. They share a set of challenges unique to this intersection, and they’re excited to go through a program with others like them and provide each other ongoing support as their organizations grow.
  • Community: Key to our mission is building closer ties between the nonprofit and for-profit tech community because the tech world has the opportunity to have a huge impact on these organizations and therefore the world. Our focus on collaborative philanthropy is quite different from for-profit accelerators, which don’t need to invest heavily in community building due to the nature of venture investing.

What happens at Demo Day?

Demo Day is the final event of the accelerator. It’s a celebration of the growth and progress the cohort has achieved throughout the summer. It’s also a valuable fundraising opportunity. Fast Forward curates three demo days, drawing an audience of 400+ foundation representatives, corporate social good program leaders, and tech philanthropists to unlock additional capital for the accelerator organizations.

I’m not from San Francisco. Can I still apply?

Yes. We meet in-person for two days, every other week. In past years some participants flew in to attend the sessions, while others found temporary housing in San Francisco. We require that at least one member of your team is present at every session.

We’re a for-profit social enterprise. Can we apply?

Our focus is on innovative solutions addressing problems for which there is no market solution. That’s where we see the biggest gap in resources in the market. Unfortunately, for-profit corporations and startups are not eligible to apply to Fast Forward at this time, but hopefully you can take advantage of one of the many funding sources available to B Corps and social enterprises.

We haven’t formally incorporated yet as a nonprofit. Can we still apply?

Yes, if you’re a student or running a product organization but haven’t formally incorporated, that’s not a problem. We can help you with that process.

My organization is not based in the US and does not have a 501c3, can we still apply?

Yes, Fast Forward accepts teams from anywhere. Your organization must be registered as a nonprofit in your country. We do not accept B-corps or for profit social enterprises.

Does Fast Forward provide housing?

We will likely provide accommodations during accelerator programming sessions this year. If you’re staying for the full summer we can direct you to local resources that will help in your housing search.

When is the next application period?

The application for the Summer 2020 cohort is live on our Accelerator page. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified about other opportunities as well.

What are the dates for the accelerator?

The accelerator runs July-September. We meet two consecutive days a week, every other week, leading up to Demo Day.

Tech For Good Fund

How will my money be distributed?

Donations to the tech for good fund are dispersed pro rata across the current Fast Forward cohort. Each tech nonprofit will receive an even cut of your gift. We aggregate and pay out all donations month-to-month.

Is my gift tax deductible?

Yes. We will send you all the tax documentation you need in order to properly deduct this gift from your taxes.

What if I only want to donate to one team?

We’ve intentionally structured this as a fund, rather than a platform for individual organizations. We believe in order to advance the tech nonprofit sector, we need to infuse capital across the board. These teams have been thoroughly vetted to ensure your donation will go to proven founders. If you wish you to donate specifically to one organization, you may do so on that organization’s website.

Is there a best time of year to donate?

We accept donations for each cohort year round! Donations for our 2019 cohort will be collected and distributed through June 30th 2020.

How much of my donation goes to the tech nonprofits?

100% of your gift will go directly to the tech nonprofits in our current cohort.

Can my gift be matched?

Yes! In your employer’s matching system, select Fast Forward as the beneficiary and restrict the gift to the Tech for Good Fund. Once received, 100% of the donation will be dispersed to the teams.

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