Your Technology Investment for Non-Profits

 For non-profit organizations, the development and execution of IT strategies has certain unique challenges. Getting the executive buy-in to invest in IT development, communicating IT strategies to people without technology backgrounds, and budgeting for IT strategies while relying on donations are particular hurdles that non-profits must consider. Non-profits face a temptation to maintain a reactive IT strategy, fixing things when broken rather than looking for ways to upgrade before problems occur. In spite of these challenges, non-profits can make the move to a proactive IT strategy that improves your organization’s overall objectives.

Which software solutions

 With rapidly advancing updates in IT, it is important to take a comprehensive look at what IT solutions would benefit your organization. Varied solutions for managing volunteers, donors, and payroll could all be viable IT solutions, but implementing too much new technology at one time could pose unexpected problems. Looking for inefficiencies in office infrastructure and prioritizing needs can help your organization methodically move towards implementing solutions that have the most impact on your organization and provide a clear way forward.

Deepen your IT presence

 Just as there are many software solutions for management of different aspects of your organization, a similar breadth of choices exist for deepening the presence of IT in your organization’s day-to-day activities. Moving data to the cloud has advantages for security, backup, and sharing data efficiently, but should be done with an understanding of how not to overpay for needless space. Increasing mobile connectivity should be done carefully, with knowledge of how to maintain security, but holds many advantages for allowing employees more flexibility to work remotely.

Making use of data

 Perhaps it is worthwhile for your organization to implement data analytics solutions. If your organization collects data on a wide array of different donors, analytics may be useful for expanding fundraising campaigns, or forecasting how future campaigns may fare based on previous trends. However, it may be that your organization is not collecting sufficient data to drive worthwhile queries. By looking into the types of questions you would like answered, you can decide on strategies to build better datasets and then acquire useful analytics tools. For example, you can use data to build a focused marketing plan to target donors, or to organize applications to possible sponsors with available grants. By first deciding what questions you want answered, your organization can implement targeted strategies to collect data and put it to work.

Evaluating Technology

 To ensure your technology investments are worthwhile, institute a plan to evaluate them a few months after implementation. This means clearly identifying the problem you want solved or the metric you want improved. For example, before adopting new security measures, look for specific metrics that indicate how effective the technology is at blocking attacks on your data. By instituting measures to evaluate new technology, your organization can be confident that investments are proving worthwhile. Furthermore, implementing effective training programs and taking advantage of free IT webinars can elevate staff skills toward making use of these investments.

Have a Strategy

Investing in technology is complex, and may have implications for varied aspects of your organization. When considering an investment, be clear about whether it is aimed at alleviating the problems of today, or providing greater opportunities for your organization down the road. Additionally, prioritize the implementation of the new or updated technology across different areas of your organization if its effects are wide-ranging. This will allow you to maintain greater control over the day-to-day while changes are made. Finally, have a plan to communicate and train staff and volunteers on new technology, one that recognizes current skillsets and defines what end users of the new technology need to know. For example, you may implement a tiered strategy for training staff, defining different levels of staff needs, from training that needs to happen in order for the technology to have the desired effect, to training that may be desirable for efficiency but has less of an impact overall. When implementing new software, you may want to tier the rollout to different parts of your organization and give ample time for smooth adoption. Defining tiers of needs helps to allocate a limited budget effectively and helps ensure smooth adoption of changes in your organization. 

Manage Existing Technology

Define a role in your organization for someone to oversee existing technology and organize periodic upgrades. Rather than be taken by surprise at growing inefficiencies, become proactive and organized when it comes to vendor contracts and the periodic upgrades that can be made to existing technology. By defining someone to act as the conduit for organizing IT needs, issues and complaints regarding IT can be centralized and lead to a strategy on how to prioritize upgrades and maintenance.

Get Involved in Social Media

 Social Media outreach is necessary for non-profits to maintain competitiveness in a world of internet philanthropy. Fundraising, client outreach, and volunteer recruitment can all be enhanced by having your organization on social media, and neglecting these efforts can result in losing both dollars and people toward assisting other organizations. Besides presenting information about your organization, your website can highlight client stories, acknowledge sponsors, and host electronic applications for volunteers or staff. In addition to investment on your organization’s website, consider developing social media vehicles such as

Facebook and LinkedIn presences to increase web traffic. Connect with existing donors and clients to build a network and increase visibility. Also consider developing a social media strategy, focusing on one aspect of your organization and trying to attain a specific goal through social media. Such a strategy should include a marketing plan for using social media to target a specific group (such as donors, volunteers, or clients), and specific staffing assignments to oversee the implementation and evaluation of the social media strategy.

How Ninestone Can Help

Ninestone can assist in identifying your organization’s needs and developing a strategy to improve your organization’s IT landscape. Whether it is looking for ways to get more out of your website, or organizing and managing both existing IT and upgrades to improve efficiency in your organization, we can help. Ninestone has proven experience in working closely with organization to assess and improve their IT landscapes, and developing proactive strategies to leverage technology for success while staying on budget.  

July, 2016

Ninestone Team