Prior to my arrival in Detroit, and more specifically my start at TechTown Detroit, I knew little to none about the nonprofit space within Motor City. However, after five weeks of being fully immersed in an impactful organization like TechTown, I have learned a lot about how nonprofits operate from within. For my DukeEngage project this summer, I was placed on the Systems Innovation Team at TechTown, where I have seen how in certain areas the company is extremely organized, but in others it can seek improvement. For example, organization calendars and meeting times are accessible for all employees, and are extremely useful for efficient company operation. Through my work this summer, I have learned that interdepartmental communication during new employee onboarding is currently inefficient and redundant, and can use a change.
Like I mentioned previously, my DukeEngage experience this summer would open me up to so many new things within the nonprofit space. Thus, of the many things I did not know about the nonprofit world in Detroit, one thing I would like to highlight is how friendly and open to help other organizations have been, during interviews and tours. As a part of my project, my partner and I were tasked to interview other nonprofits to research a solution for our recommendation. During the process, other nonprofits, even if they fulfilled a similar role to TechTown, were open and willing to help. TechTown operates in a similar way, and loves to support Detroit and more specifically local city businesses and nonprofits in any way possible. This has been one of my favorite things to discover about nonprofits in Detroit. They all focus on collaboration.
Not including organizational collaboration, something that definitely surprised me about nonprofits is how small some of these organizations can be in terms of organization size. For example, my peers, working for other nonprofits in Detroit, have described how only a few true employees work for their organizations. Specifically, MoGo has roughly five full time employees, with interns and outsourced workers for bicycle management. Similarly, Co.act has roughly eight full time employees, which is surprising for such an impactful organization.