Publication Date

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Leonard Lira


technology-adoption, nonprofits, e-referrals


Nonprofits play a significant role in providing social services that increase communities' overall well-being (Ressler et al., 2021; Reckhow et al., 2019; Smith & Phillips, 2016), and adopting new technologies helps promote these positive outcomes (Hackler & Saxton, 2007). However, with new technologies emerging at a pace few nonprofit organizations can keep up with, how do nonprofit leaders decide which technologies to adopt given their limited resources? This study seeks to understand what factors affect nonprofit leaders' technology adoption decision-making. Online referral platforms are not new in health or homeless organizations. Web-based coordinated social service referral tools are more recently integrating health organizations and the social service nonprofit sector into a coordinated network of service providers on web-based referral platforms. These platforms provide a more holistic service delivery model to families. In addition, web-based referral tools provide coordinated electronic referral (e-referral) networks that increase referral processes' efficiency and effectiveness, which increases nonprofits' workflows in this area of organizations' operations. Nonetheless, nonprofits often lag behind other sectors in technology adoption (Zorn et al., 2011). Nonprofit leaders who make decisions to adopt web-based referral tools can positively influence mission outcomes (Boles, 2013; Goldkind, 2017; Hackler & Saxton, 2007; Laporte et al., 2018; Liao et al., 2009; McDonald, 2007; Mosely & Smith, 2018; Sherry et al., n.d.; Spelhaug & Woodman, 2017). Using Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations theory as the theoretical foundation, this study seeks to understand what factors affect Santa Cruz County health and human service nonprofit organization leaders' decisions to adopt a newly introduced web-based referral tool.