Daniel Ben-Horin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Daniel Ben-Horin
Photo of Daniel Ben-Horin taken by his staff.jpg
Born (1947-12-26) 26 December 1947 (age 66)
New York, New York
United States
Residence San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Chicago
Occupation political activist and technologist
Title Founder and Chief Instigator, TechSoup Global

Daniel Ben-Horin is an American political activist and technologist best known for founding CompuMentor, one of the first nonprofit technology assistance providers in the United States, in 1987 and guiding its growth since then. He served as C.E.O. and co-C.E.O. until January 2013, and is now the Founder and Chief Instigator of the organization, which has been called TechSoup Global since 2008.

Background, Education and Early Career[edit]

Ben-Horin was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York on Christmas Day 1947. His father, Eliahu (d. 1966), was a prominent Zionist who had long been associated with Vladimir Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement while living and working as a journalist in Palestine. He had moved to the United States after the Second World War, disaffected with the domination of pre-Independence politics by the more left-leaning Mapai party of David Ben-Gurion. Eliahu Ben-Horin wrote extensively during his years in the United States.[1][2] Daniel Ben-Horin’s mother, Miriam, was trained as a lawyer in Latvia, lived for many years in Palestine and worked in Manhattan, to which the family moved when Daniel was four, as a jeweler and probation officer for the City of New York. She was the family’s main provider from the mid 1950s on. Daniel has one brother, Giora, born in 1935. He has been a lawyer and real estate investor in Phoenix, Arizona.

Ben-Horin attended Hunter Elementary School and Bronx High School of Science. He holds a B. A. in Psychology, 1969, from the University of Chicago. From 1969 to 1971 he was a reporter and columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix. From 1971-1974 he was the first editor of the New Times newspaper in Phoenix. From 1974-80, he made his living as a journalist, writing for The New York Times, The Nation, Harper's Weekly, Mother Jones, Redbook and many other publications. 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.

CompuMentor and TechSoup Global[edit]

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.[3] In 2014, TechSoup Global has a staff of 194 and an annual operating budget of $33 million.

Its core capabilities include running one of the largest technology philanthropy programs in the world (via collaboration with an international network of 63 NGOs in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East); providing NGO validation services to funders and corporations; gathering, analyzing, and distributing global social-sector data; and catalyzing community-oriented technology innovations. Using a social-enterprise business model, its operations are grounded in collaborations with a range of stakeholders: NGOs, government agencies, social enterprises, technology activists, foundations, and 100+ technology companies - such as Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Cisco, and Intuit. Since 2001, TechSoup Global has distributed 14.1 million software and hardware product donations and enabled organizations worldwide to save US$4.6 billion for direct services.[4]

Fundacja TechSoup is the first separately incorporated “regional hub” established by TechSoup Global. It employs a staff of eighteen in Warsaw, Poland, and supports activities in more than 16 European countries (as well as playing a key role in supporting the Global Partner Network overall).

Honors, Talks and Writing[edit]

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...”[5] In their 2012 book, Social Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice, Ryszard Praszkier and Andrzej Nowak refer to Mr. Ben-Horin as "a social entrepreneur through and through" and use TechSoup Global as a leading example of a large, vibrant, online network.[6]

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.”[7][8]

From 2004 through 2007, the Nonprofit Times included him on its annual list of “50 Most Influential People in the Nonprofit Sector.”[9] Mr. Ben-Horin was the subject of a "Boss" column in The New York Times on November 26, 2007.[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 April 2008, The New York Times featured TechSoup Global in an article entitled “When Tech Innovation Has a Social Mission.”[12]

In addition to guiding the evolution of TechSoup Global, Ben-Horin speaks frequently on issues related to the underserved's access to technology. Engagements have included the keynote address at the ConnectingUp 2007 Conference in Australia,[13] the closing plenary at the SANGONeT Conference and Exhibition 2007 in South Africa,[14] and a keynote at the Telecentre Europe Summit 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey.[15] 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 together to interact with journalists, engineers, philanthropists, venture capitalists, and business leaders.[16] 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."[17]

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.[18][19] On September 20, 2010, 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.[20]

At the Grantmakers East Forum in Tbilisi, Georgia on October 26, 2010, 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.[21]

On May 23, 2011, 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.[22][23] 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.[24] In his talk, 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.”[25]

On June 7, 2011, Ben-Horin gave a plenary talk at the Personal Democracy Forum 2011 conference in New York City, joining participants from the federal government, major foundations, leading nonprofits, journalists, and Fortune 500 companies around the theme “Agents for Change.”[26] 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.[27][28] "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…?”[29] Ben-Horin reported back on the results of this process in a featured blog post for the Stanford Social Innovation Review published on July 18, 2012.[30]

On September 6, 2012, Ben-Horin addressed a plenary session of the Civicus World Assembly.[31] He used the occasion to describe the first Campus Party event held outside the Spanish speaking world, which he had attended two weeks before in Berlin.[32] He told the delegates “…to consider young hackers as vital allies in social activism activities, but you have to think less about 'mobilizing' and more about 'engaging.'"

On November 21, 2011, Ben-Horin became a featured technology blogger on The Huffington Post focusing on the intersection of technology and civil society. He has written about topics as diverse as the emergence of Campus Party, an Open Government Challenge in Romania, and the intellectual property battles of author Timothy Mo.[33][34][35] His most recent post (May 2013) was “Kenya Balancing Act: Human Rights, Civil Society, Neo-Colonialism, and Democracy."[36]

In March 2012, Ben-Horin was one of 50 “leading social innovators” invited by Ashoka to Change Nation, in Dublin,[37] where they met with leaders of the Irish government, business and civil society toward the goal of instilling social innovations in Ireland. Ben-Horin described his impressions of Change Nation and of related discussions with American Ambassador to Romania, Mark Gitenstein; Aga Khan Development Network official Nick McKinlay; and Central and Eastern European activists such as Vlad Atanasiu in a post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog entitled, “Tension and possibility—The new dynamics of change."[38] In another post on the SSIR blog, Ben-Horin argued that more attention should be placed on the replication of innovative advances.[39][40] In June 2013, Ben-Horin continued his posts on the Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog with a two-part series about social entrepreneurs “who have to get out there and do the work, with enough staying power to make a real impact.”[41][42] On August 28, 2014, the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog posted Ben-Horin's “Fifty Shades of Sharing. Or at Least Two,” which explores the potential for engagement between the values-driven segment of the ‘sharing economy’ with nonprofits and NGOs engaging in social change.[43]


  1. ^ The Middle East: Crossroads of History by Eliahu Ben-Horin (W. W. Norton & Co. 1943)
  2. ^ The Red Army by Michel & Eliahu Ben-Horin Berchin (W. W. Norton & Co. 1942)
  3. ^ The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier by Howard Rheingold, pages 261-262 (Addison-Wesley 1993)
  4. ^ TechSoup Global Year in Review
  5. ^ “Blessed Unrest” by Paul Hawken, Page 152-3 of the Penguin Paperback (April 1, 2008)
  6. ^ Social Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice, by Ryszard Praszkier and Andrzej Nowak, Page 94 and Page 99 of the Cambridge University Press edition, 2011
  7. ^ “Ashoka Foundation New Fellows Announcement”
  8. ^ “2009 NTC: Awards Show Wrap Up”
  9. ^ "The NPT 2007 Power and Influence Top 50" (PDF). The Nonprofit Times. August 2007. p. 25. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  10. ^ "The Boss: A Serious Side of Fun" by Daniel Ben-Horin as told to Perry Garfinkel, The New York Times, November 25, 2007
  11. ^ Philanthropy and the 21st Century: The Foundation Center's 50th Anniversary Interviews
  12. ^ "Slipstream: When Tech Innovation Has a Social Mission" by John Markoff The New York Times, April 13, 2008
  13. ^ ConnectingUp2007 Technology Conference on YouTube
  14. ^ SANGONeT Conference 2007
  15. ^ “Telecentre-Europe Summit 2009”
  16. ^ "Event Report, Tech4Society Convening", Hyderabad, India February 11–13, 2010, page 31.
  17. ^ “Ashoka Fellow Inspires Social Entrepreneurial 'Skin Game'” Ashoka Changemakers April 26, 2010
  18. ^ “A tale of two cultures” Alliance Magazine, May 26, 2010
  19. ^ “Punching at Your Own Weight in Social Media” Tactical Philanthropy Advisors June 24, 2010
  20. ^ “Delivering Digital Europe in Public Libraries” Photo of Daniel Ben-Horin at the European Congress on E-Inclusion 2010 September 20, 2010
  21. ^ Grantmakers East Forum Tbilisi, Georgia October 26, 2010
  22. ^ Conference Sektor 3.0, Warsaw, Poland, May 23–24, 2011
  23. ^ Stocznia Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard
  24. ^ Fundacja TechSoup Blog, June 6, 2011
  25. ^ "Conference Conference Sektor 3.0 Daniel Ben-Horin opening remarks at conference in Warsaw, Poland May 23–24, 2011
  26. ^ Personal Democracy Forum PdF 2011 “Agents of Change” June 6–7, 2011, New York, New York
  27. ^ “On Innovation, Social Change and Tech: TechSoup is Stirring the Pot” by Micah L. Sifry, TechPresident, April 12, 2011
  28. ^ TechSoup Global Contributors’ Summit Wiki, February, 2011
  29. ^ “Networks of Resources, Networks of Ideas, Connecting the Dots,” Daniel Ben-Horin, Personal Democracy Forum 2011, June 7, 2011, New York, New York
  30. ^ “Impact: The Lovechild of Innovation and Collaboration” Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog July 18, 2012
  31. ^ "Building Partnerships for Social Innovation" Plenary Session of the Civicus World Assembly, Montreal, Canada, September 6, 2012
  32. ^ Campus Party Europe in Berlin August 21–26, 2012
  33. ^ "The Kids Are Alright: Campus Party, Silicon Valley Tech Festival Rocks NASA" The Huffington Post November 21, 2011
  34. ^ "Beyond The Easter Bunny: Ambassador Sparks Open Government Web Challenge" The Huffington Post December 1, 2011
  35. ^ "Timothy Mo Is Missing: Thoughts on SOPA, Creativity, and True Fans" The Huffington Post January 17, 2012
  36. ^ “Kenya Balancing Act: Human Rights, Civil Society, Neo-Colonialism, and Democracy” by Daniel Ben-Horin, The Huffington Post May 13, 2013
  37. ^ Ashoka "Change Nation" conference Phoenix Park, Dublin, March 22–24, 2012
  38. ^ "Tension and Possibility: The New Dynamics of Change: Reflections on Ashoka’s Change Nation event in Dublin" by Daniel Ben-Horin, Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, March 30, 2012
  39. ^ "Innovation Obsession Disorder" by Daniel Ben-Horin, Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, April 11, 2012
  40. ^ "Impact: The Lovechild of Innovation and Collaboration" by Daniel Ben-Horin, Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, July 18, 2012
  41. ^ “Between the Quick Exit and the Long Sojourn” by Daniel Ben-Horin, Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, June 19, 2013
  42. ^ “Beyond Sexy” by Daniel Ben-Horin, Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, June 19, 2013
  43. ^ “Fifty Shades of Sharing. Or at Least Two” Stanford Social Innovation Review, August 29, 2014

External links[edit]