At the heart of every great nonprofit organization is the mission to improve the lives of others. Unfortunately, even when trying to do good, unexpected challenges can interfere with your mission.
Keep reading to find out what challenges you might face and how your nonprofit can leverage technology to focus on what really matters.
Before we jump into solutions, we need to identify what challenges nonprofits could face in the coming year. You are likely familiar with many of these and may even have some of your own to add. With a list of expected strategic and technology challenges, we can then explore how they can become opportunities for growth.
Whether planning for day-to-day operations or setting goals for three to five years in the future, nonprofits will be met with some or all of the following challenges:
What do nonprofits need the most? Whether they get it from individual donors, corporations, or foundations, nonprofits need money to operate and do their work. Without it, they can’t hire employees, buy equipment, and market their cause.
According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), unemployment rates for middle and working class families were still above-average in mid 2021, and nonprofits will have to take this into account when updating donor files and qualifying donors to reach out to in 2022 and beyond. However, the news isn’t all bad. Donations from individuals are increasing, although at a slower rate than in 2020. Foundations have also stepped up to support a myriad of causes, increasing total donations by 15.6% in 2020.
The opportunities for fundraising are still growing, but nonprofits need to adapt the ways they connect with donors, and know which donors to reach out to.
With the CDC still advising against holding large events and long distance travel in the wake of COVID-19, nonprofits must weigh the risk of hosting in-person events against the benefits. Even in areas with looser restrictions, a significant portion of would-be attendees are still hesitant to gather with large groups of strangers. According to MarketWatch, 61% of survey respondents planned a return to live events by late 2021. While that’s up by almost 10% from early 2021, that still leaves almost 40% of respondents who are concerned about mingling again.
To comply with guidelines and continue to reach as many of their donors as possible, nonprofits have been forced to come up with alternative ways of building excitement around their cause.
Most nonprofits aren’t operating at the same capacity throughout the entire year. When you have an event approaching, you likely find that you need more hands than you can gather. After recruiting as much help for the event as you can, there might not be enough work to keep your new members engaged.
While not a fix-all, technology implemented properly and with a plan can help nonprofits overcome many of the challenges they face.
As teams shifted to remote and hybrid models, they have been able to remain in close contact with a variety of tools. Not only have platforms like Zoom kept employees and volunteers in touch, file sharing and cloud storage services like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive allow your team to continue working on projects while following safety guidelines.
Many nonprofits have even found success in hosting online events where attendees can join a large Zoom meeting to view and interact with a presentation.
There are software programs available to help keep track of donors and store their contact information and giving tendencies. They can even automate connections like sending out thank you emails after a donation or a reminder for an upcoming event.
There are also similar programs for managing projects. From their own devices, employees and volunteers can view their assignments and move them along a digital pipeline, communicate the help they need from the team, and keep track of deadlines.
In addition to the software used for staying in touch with donors at impactful moments, nonprofits can leverage social media for cost-effective marketing. With tight budgets, each bit of organic reach can translate into more of your mission fulfilled.
Technology can help, but it comes with its own challenges. What do nonprofits struggle with the most?
Technology advances at a staggering rate, and so do the technology challenges for nonprofits. According to techjury, the processing power of computers doubles every 18 months. With smartphones also outdoing themselves each year and over one million tech startups in the world trying to make their impact with the latest gadget or software, it can feel impossible to keep up with the latest technology.
When there are too many options for moving forward, many leaders and teams choose to stick with what they know. The problem is that they miss out on the opportunities and efficiencies gained with newer technologies.
What happens when it breaks?
Technology is amazing—when it works. For many, adapting to the latest technology comes with a steep learning curve, and that’s just figuring out how to use it. Relying on technology can bring your nonprofit to a halt if it suddenly stops working and you don’t have someone on your team with the know-how to fix it.
With the convenience of technology also comes vulnerability to hacking and scams. Sadly, even nonprofits are targets for ransomware and phishing scams, putting your reputation, hard-earned funds, and donors’ information at risk.
The latest technology isn’t always cheap, and deals can be hard to find. In fact, the average cost of technology for a small nonprofit is 13.2% of their overall budget, and each dollar spent on overhead costs is a dollar not going toward beneficiaries.
The good news is that you don’t have to figure out how to overcome the challenges of technology all by yourself. Here at Computers in Ministry, we work with nonprofits to effectively leverage technology to achieve your goals.
We take an involved approach–that means having our team working directly with yours to get to know your mission, advise you on which secure technology can help get you there, provide a roadmap for implementation, and educate your members to be self-reliant.
Technology services for nonprofits don’t have to blow through your budget, either. With our partnerships and experience navigating the information technology market, we can make your budget work with your goals, not against them. If your nonprofit is ready to learn how technology can be used to overcome your challenges, contact us for a free consultation. We’d love to see how we can help!