Technology has drastically transformed the world of business, making it faster-paced, highly connected, and more efficient. Teams can communicate easily across vast distances, files can be stored, sorted, and shared with the click of a button, and customers can engage with their favorite companies’ latest updates.
Can nonprofits make the same use of technology?
According to Forbes, digital teams at nonprofits grew by 70% between 2015 and 2018, yet after all that growth, only 11% of nonprofits felt they were getting the most out of their investment. All too often, technology challenges for nonprofits stand in the way of their mission and bettering their communities.
This post will help you start taking advantage of nonprofit information technology by answering the following questions: How can technology help nonprofits? And, how can I find technology services for nonprofits?
Upgrading technology doesn’t have to be overwhelming or prohibitively expensive, either. Even with a relatively small investment in a well-selected tool, hesitant nonprofits should know that:
Not only can technology transform nonprofits, it can do so for the better.
With more tools available now than ever before, nonprofits have an unprecedented opportunity to expand their reach and impact.
Nonprofits need funding to operate, whether it comes from individual donors, corporations, or foundations. Nonprofits need to present a compelling case for why their mission is worth achieving, and that their organization can make an impact.
Using emotional storytelling to attract donors is a great place to start, but backing that messaging up with data is even better.
Here’s an example: “Help us bring in animals from the cold this winter,” vs. “Last year, we provided shelter for over 3,000 animals. This year, even more animals will face the brutal cold outdoors. Help us continue our good work.” While the first example can tug at the heartstrings, the second example proves to potential donors that their money is actually accomplishing something.
Having concrete proof that your organization makes an impact can be especially important when applying for grants from foundations, whose donations have increased by 17% in 2020, according to Philanthropy Network.
With the right technology, tracking your data can turn from a nightmare into a sustainable process. Spreadsheet software like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel has basic, easy-to-learn functions for beginners to track data like cash flow, while also containing forecasting tools for more advanced users.
Competition is a word often reserved for the private sector, but nonprofits are locked in constant competition, too. Now that you’ve transformed your pitch, how can you get it in front of the right people?
Social media is a great option, and you can start for free. Sometimes marketing—especially for nonprofits—can feel like shouting into the void. But with targeting methods on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, you can share your message with those who will care the most. When creating an ad campaign, you can choose demographics like age, location, income level, and interests. When you do start putting your raised funds to work spreading your message, these tools can stretch each dollar.
If you find email campaigns to be more effective, you can use tools like Mailchimp that automate the process, saving you time and reaching out to potential donors when they are most likely to give.
For many nonprofits, the need and availability of members is inconsistent.
In 2021, employee turnover for nonprofits was 19%, higher than the all-industry average of 12%. According to The Nonprofit Times, 45% of surveyed nonprofits had the most difficulty retaining entry-level staff and members under 30. Inconsistent hours and low wages were prominent contributors to high turnover.
With a pressing need to ensure that events are staffed, phones are answered, and the good work is done, technology can help nonprofits keep track of their coming needs so they can develop a plan to meet them.
Project tracking tools like Monday.com make it easy to know when to ramp up on staffing, so you can clearly communicate with your team on what you need from them. While you may not have the funds to always give raises or a consistent schedule throughout the year, respecting the time and schedules of your members is one way to boost morale and reduce turnover.
With all of its benefits, new technology also comes with potential downsides. Fortunately, most downsides can be remedied with the help of an experienced professional. At Computers in Ministry, we help nonprofits make the best of their budget by helping to implement cost-effective and impactful technology.
With all of the options out there, how can you be sure that you’re choosing the right ones? It’s easy to become overwhelmed and start chasing the latest tech.
Technology should support your mission, not the other way around. Whenever you consider an upgrade, ask yourself: what will this enable us to do better?
The good news is that there are guides, like TechSoup, to help you evaluate your options. What is TechSoup used for? The support service for nonprofits has online resources that educate organizations on the available technology. They also have partnerships with major providers, like Microsoft, so you can access time-saving technology at a reduced cost.
According to the National Skills Coalition, 13% of workers lack digital skills and 18% have only a limited skillset. Out of the workers with no digital skills, 20% are supervisors, and out of those with a limited skillset, 33% are supervisors.
What this means for your nonprofit is that there’s a good chance that many of your employees—and some of those responsible for training them—lack the necessary skills to take advantage of current information technology.
With technology advancing at such a rapid rate, having an untrained team can lead to lost opportunities, frustrated members, and leave your organization vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
If your nonprofit is excited to take advantage of new technology but lacks the ability to train internally, organizations like Computers in Ministry exist with the mission to help nonprofits use technology as efficiently and safely as possible.
Our integrated approach works with your strategic goals to develop a roadmap for success, partners with information technology providers to get the most out of your budget, and provides ongoing training, so your team can become self-sufficient.
Meeting nonprofit technology needs can stretch your budget and human resources. But, it doesn’t have to. If you’re in need of an expert in the field of nonprofit technology to join your team and support your mission, contact us for a free consultation.