Daniel Ben-Horin

Daniel Ben-Horin is the co-CEO and founder of TechSoup Global, one of the first nonprofit technology assistance providers in the United States.

Founded in 1987 with $2,500 in seed funding, Ben-Horin tapped volunteer resources on The WELL, one of the first online communities, to create CompuMentor. The early days of CompuMentor, including its birth on the WELL, are described in “The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” by Howard Rheingold.[1] Today (December 31, 2010), CompuMentor has become TechSoup Global with a staff of 196 and an annual operating budget of $27 million.

From January 2002 when the technology product donation service began through December 31, 2010, has served more than 138,000 organizations, distributed more than 7 million software and hardware product donations, and enabled recipients to save more than US$2.2 billion in IT expenses in 36 countries around the world.

TechSoup Global conducts a range of programs including the operation of TechSoup.Org (providing donated technology products and information to nonprofits), the NetSquared and Nonprofits in Second Life social networking communities, and TechSoup for Libraries—helping public libraries manage public access computers.

The TechSoup Global Network helps connect nonprofits from outside the U.S. to donations of software, technology products, and services. Fundacja TechSoup is the first separately incorporated “regional hub” established by TechSoup Global. It employs a staff of six in Warsaw, Poland, and supports activities in 16 European countries (as well as playing a key role in supporting the Global Partner Network overall). Through 35 TechSoup Global Network partners, the TechSoup technology donation program is available to community-based organizations in a total of 35 countries in addition to the United States, including: Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Another TechSoup Global initiative developed under Mr. Ben-Horin’s leadership is NGOsource. NGOsource, a project of the Council on Foundations and TechSoup Global, is an equivalency determination service that will help U.S. grantmakers streamline their international grantmaking process.[2]

TechSoup Global and GuideStar International, a U.K.-registered charity that promotes transparency and civil society organization reporting, combined operations in 2010 in order to strengthen their respective capacity-building programs for civil society. The two organizations share a mission to benefit global civil society through the provision of technology, information, and resources.[3]

In his book, Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken writes that the “…hybridization of business, philanthropy technology and nonprofit activity is exemplified in the work of Daniel Ben-Horin...”[4] In 2009, the Ashoka Foundation elected Ben-Horin as a Senior Fellow for his work as a “leading social entrepreneur,” and the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network NTEN gave him its "Lifetime Achievement Award." At the NTEN ceremony, the Surdna Foundation's Vincent Stehle said “… the award is given each year to a person who has pushed the nptech community forward. This push might be in the form of innovation, or thought leadership. In the case of Daniel Ben-Horin ... it's both. Everyone who works in our field owes him a debt of gratitude for revolutionizing how we get and share software and information.” [5][6]

Mr. Ben-Horin holds a B. A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago. From 1980-84, Ben-Horin served as the Executive Director of Media Alliance in San Francisco during which period he also taught journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz. From 1969 to 1980, he was a working journalist, writing for The New York Times, The Nation, Harper's Weekly, Mother Jones, Redbook and many other publications.

In 2004, 2005 and 2007, the Nonprofit Times included him on its annual list of “50 Most Influential People in the Nonprofit Sector.”[7] Mr. Ben-Horin was the subject of a "Boss" column in The New York Times on November 26, 2007.[8]

In addition to guiding the evolution of TechSoup Global, Ben-Horin speaks frequently on issues related to the underserved's access to technology. Engagements include the keynote address at the ConnectingUp 2007 Conference in Australia,[9] and the closing panel at the SANGONeT Conference and Exhibition 2007 in South Africa.[10]

In March 2006, Ben-Horin was interviewed by Mitch Nauffts, editorial director of Philanthropy News Digest. That interview, entitled “Philanthropy and the Next-Generation Web,” was published in The Foundation Center's 50th anniversary book, “Philanthropy and the 21st Century: The Foundation Center's 50th Anniversary Interviews.” [11] In December 2007, Mr. Ben-Horin was asked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy to offer his predictions for 2008.[12] In April 2008, The New York Times story “When Tech Innovation Has a Social Mission” featured the organization Ben-Horin founded and still runs as co-CEO.[13]

At the September 2008 Clinton Global Initiative, TechSoup Global co-CEO Ben-Horin joined co-CEO Rebecca Masisak and co-CEO Marnie Webb to announce the organization’s commitment to provide technological products and services to nonprofits worldwide, especially in developing countries.[14] In April 2009 his comments led the San Francisco Chronicle story “TechSoup sees upside for nonprofits in downturn.”[15]

Ben-Horin spoke at the Telecentre-Europe Summit 2009 which took place October 14–15, 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey. He provided the second day keynote address along with Ramazan Altinok (director of the Turkish Prime Minister's e-Government Advisory Group).[16]

On February 11–13, 2010, Ben-Horin spoke at Tech4Society, a 3-day international event at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. The conference brought 76 Ashoka-Lemelson Foundation Fellows to interact with journalists, engineers, philanthropists, venture capitalists, and business leaders.[17] Ben-Horin focused on “replication,” as distinct from “scaling,” as a critical approach to fostering the spread of innovative, socially beneficial projects. "On the replication side of the equation, I think there’s a pretty simple approach worth testing. If there’s a social problem, a proven solution, and a dynamic network, it should be possible to identify the problem solvers, expose them to other potential problem solvers, and provide a modest subsidy to support knowledge transfer throughout the network. So, in practice, this idea boils down to connecting and supporting small gatherings of potential replicators, where every participant has skin in the game."[18]

Mr. Ben-Horin served on the panel “Social media: A fad or the future?” at the European Foundation Centre 2010 meeting in Brussels, Belgium on June 2, 2010.[19][20] On September 20, 2010, Mr. Ben-Horin’s speech “The Disruptive Opportunity for Libraries” was a keynote address to the European Congress on E-Inclusion 2010 “Delivering Digital Europe in Public Libraries” conference held in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels as part of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.[21]

At the Grantmakers East Forum in Tbilisi, Georgia on October 26, 2010, Mr. Ben-Horin spoke on the concluding plenary panel “Disruption and Positive Deviants” moderated by Melissa Pailthorp, Microsoft Community Affairs Senior Manager for Central and Eastern Europe, and Anna Piotrovskaya, Executive Director of the Dmitry Zimin Dynasty Foundation.[22]

On May 23, 2011, Mr. Ben-Horin provided opening remarks at Conference Sektor 3.0, organized by Stocznia (Unit for Social Innovation and Research-Shipyard), a Polish NGO funded by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation.[23][24] Sektor 3.0 was the first Polish conference with a focus on the state of information technology, the NGO sector and local rural communities that allowed participants themselves to create the agenda for the meeting.[25] In his talk, Mr. Ben-Horin emphasized the opportunities that new technologies bring for greater connectivity and resource sharing to facilitate social change. “What's true about the Arab spring, is even truer about small projects in little villages. New tools allow citizens to obtain an entirely different level of data about public officials. New tools allow them to publish this data and create a new level of pressure for change. New tools allow communication with new allies. New tools allow best practices and solutions to be shared between Tunisia, the U.S. and Poland. These truths apply to the smallest social change effort anywhere in the world.”[26]

On June 7, 2011, Ben-Horin gave a plenary talk at the Personal Democracy Forum 2011 conference in New York City, joining participants from federal government, major foundations, leading nonprofits, journalists, and Fortune 500 companies around the theme “Agents for Change.”[27]In his address, “Networks of Resources, Networks of Ideas, Connecting the Dots,” he focused on TechSoup Global’s “Global Contributors’ Summit,” a 3-day conference which took place on February 15-17, 2011, bringing together global networks of organizations that need technology support, networks of corporations that are willing to donate their products, networks of funders interested in building the capacity of civil society, and networks of technical volunteers.[28][29]"We realized that we can’t go it alone if we’re going to solve problems and take advantage of resources to create real change," Ben-Horin said, "so we identified our constituency and invited them all to come to San Francisco to meet with our capacity building partners … and what we’re going to do now is to use some old fashioned organizing techniques, taking statements of intent that people made at the Summit and putting them on a blog … and calling on people to make good on what they said they would do … we’re going to drive each of these conversations towards a specific project and ask did it happen, and what’s next…?”[30]


  1. ^ “The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” by Howard Rheingold, pages 261-262 (Addison-Wesley 1993)
  2. ^ "The Council on Foundations-NGOSource” The Council on Foundations July 28, 2010
  3. ^ "GuideStar International and TechSoup Global Combine” The Nonprofit Quarterly April 15, 2010
  4. ^ “Blessed Unrest” by Paul Hawken, Page 152-3 of the Penguin Paperback (April 1, 2008)
  5. ^ “Ashoka Foundation New Fellows Announcement”
  6. ^ “2009 NTC: Awards Show Wrap Up”
  7. ^ "The NPT 2007 Power and Influence Top 50" (PDF). The Nonprofit Times. August 2007. p. 25. http://www.nptimes.com/07Aug/070801Special%20Report.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  8. ^ "The Boss: A Serious Side of Fun" by Daniel Ben-Horin as told to Perry Garfinkel, The New York Times, November 25, 2007
  9. ^ ConnectingUp2007 Technology Conference
  10. ^ SANGONeT Conference 2007
  11. ^ Philanthropy and the 21st Century: The Foundation Center's 50th Anniversary Interviews
  12. ^ "Nonprofit Leaders and Experts Offer Their Predictions for 2008"Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 31, 2007
  13. ^ "Slipstream: When Tech Innovation Has a Social Mission" by John Markoff The New York Times, April 13, 2008
  14. ^ “TechSoup to aid developing world” Philanthropy Journal November 21, 2008
  15. ^ “TechSoup sees upside for nonprofits in downturn” San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, March 22, 2009, Business Section D-1
  16. ^ “Telecentre-Europe Summit 2009”
  17. ^ "Event Report, Tech4Society Convening", Hyderabad, India February 11–13, 2010, page 31.
  18. ^ “Ashoka Fellow Inspires Social Entrepreneurial 'Skin Game'” Ashoka Changemakers April 26, 2010
  19. ^ “A tale of two cultures” Alliance Magazine, May 26, 2010
  20. ^ “Punching at Your Own Weight in Social Media” Tactical Philanthropy Advisors June 24, 2010
  21. ^ “Delivering Digital Europe in Public Libraries” Photo of Daniel Ben-Horin at the European Congress on E-Inclusion 2010 September 20, 2010
  22. ^ Grantmakers East Forum Tbilisi, Georgia October 26, 2010
  23. ^ Conference Sektor 3.0, Warsaw, Poland, May 23–24, 2011
  24. ^ Stocznia Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard
  25. ^ Fundacja TechSoup Blog, June 6, 2011
  26. ^ "Conference Conference Sektor 3.0 Daniel Ben-Horin opening remarks at conference in Warsaw, Poland May 23–24, 2011
  27. ^ Personal Democracy Forum PdF 2011 “Agents of Change” June 6-7, 2011, New York, New York
  28. ^ “On Innovation, Social Change and Tech: TechSoup is Stirring the Pot” by Micah L. Sifry, TechPresident, April 12, 2011
  29. ^ TechSoup Global Contributors’ Summit Wiki, February, 2011
  30. ^ “Networks of Resources, Networks of Ideas, Connecting the Dots,” Daniel Ben-Horin, Personal Democracy Forum 2011, June 7, 2011, New York, New York

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