Technology services for nonprofits can be a little like a toothache—it’s always on your mind, and you know you probably need an expert to help, but with a busy schedule, you might push through the pain and ignore the problem. Until, that is, you wake up one day in excruciating agony and can’t function. Not only is the issue more expensive to resolve, fixing it also disrupts your daily schedule and efficiency far more than it would have if the ache was addressed when you first noticed it.
The comparison falls apart easily, of course, especially when you consider the scope of effort involved. Solving a toothache isn’t exactly comfortable, but at the end of the day, all you probably have to do is sit in a chair and let an expert do the work. Nonprofit technology needs, on the other hand, often must be defined and addressed by the staff of the nonprofit itself, from choosing the tech to setting it up and learning how to use it.
Wait…is that really the only option?
At Computers in Ministry (CIM), we support all types of nonprofits (not just the ministry, though that’s where we got our start) in upgrading to better and more useful technology without compromising efficiency, results, or the budget. We have seen technology use in nonprofit organizations become a game-changer for incredible organizations, helping them do more for their communities with the resources they already have.
Keep reading to learn what nonprofits need to know about technology to achieve the same performance as Fortune 500 corporations without becoming one—and how we can help get you there without the toothache…uh, we mean headache.
Before we nerd out about the potential of technology, let’s examine some of the common challenges facing nonprofits in 2022. Because even though the technology is cool and has interesting features, it is ultimately only useful to a nonprofit when it can address the following challenges in the way they show up for that specific organization.
A study by The Bridgespan Group and The Lodestar Foundation found that 91% of nonprofits participate in one form of formal collaboration, and 54% participate in two or more types. What’s more, 84% of funders said their dollars are spent in support of these collaborations.
There are four main types of collaboration nonprofits often manage, including:
Though some level of spending documentation is almost always required by funders of a grant, many nonprofits still struggle with accurate and timely grant tracking. This process is essential for nonprofits to prove to grantmakers that their dollars were used responsibly and achieved the mission and intention for which the funds were given. This starts with setting up a budget for the grant, then tracking how well the budget is followed.
Nonprofits operate with limited resources, and time is no exception. About 50% of nonprofit administrators reported they are not able to complete all their essential tasks every day. Even volunteer time tracking can be a challenge and limit efficiency. Since around 40% of nonprofits have 5 or fewer employees, managing everyone’s workload and leveraging volunteers is essential to pulling off meaningful work.
Cost management is a challenge for any organization operating on limited resources. In a survey of over 500 US nonprofits, around 75% have less than $10 million annually to achieve their missions. That might sound like a lot, but considering the costs of doing good work on a large scale, every dollar counts. The same survey found that 58% of these respondents saw a decrease in their funding in 2020. Now more than ever, cost efficiencies are essential for nonprofits to rebound from the pandemic and continue doing good.
Did you know hackers attack every 39 seconds? Inevitably, nonprofits end up as targets. The trusting nature of nonprofit culture and low technical literacy among staff and volunteers make these organizations especially vulnerable to email phishing and viruses hidden in free software downloads. These types of attacks increased 64% in 2020, and as a result, more than 60% of companies suffered a ransomware attack.
Lastly, a more positive challenge on our list is a nonprofit’s need to scale its services and bring support to more people. This need to scale is often temporary, surrounding keynote events or fundraising, with less support needed between initiatives. This means nonprofits face a unique need to ramp up and then dial down their staff, technology, and other resources.
Defining these challenges helps us explain the importance of IT for nonprofit organizations in context. Technology is a tool to solve problems—and we promise, affordable tech exists to solve the problems we just described.
Nonprofits use lots of different technology to address their challenges. Here are eight of the uses we help our partners achieve.
Sometimes, the process of achieving these uses is a challenge in itself. That’s where a nonprofit technology strategy comes in.
Now that we’ve described the challenges nonprofits face and the opportunities on the other side, you are likely wondering how to create the plan that helps you get from the struggle zone to your full potential. Here are the steps you can follow to develop a plan for improving your nonprofit’s digital maturity:
If all those steps sound like a lot of work, we have great news. One of the first steps in partnership with CIM is developing a custom Technology Roadmap for your organization. This is the pathway from your present technological state to the goals you identify. Once you and your stakeholders understand and buy-in to the Roadmap, we then carry out the strategy for you and stay committed to continuous improvement. As your growth creates new needs, we work with you to leverage innovation and keep your technology supporting your mission.
Can technology transform the nonprofit sector? As CIM continues our work, we know it not only can, but it will. We’d love to partner with you to help your organization adapt to the times and prepare for the future. Contact us to set up a free consultation and talk more about the solutions to your challenges.