Essential Technology Systems That Make Nonprofits More Efficient

Essential Technology Systems That Make Nonprofits More Efficient

Just like any other type of organization, nonprofits are finding themselves under greater pressure to adapt to the digital age. However, operating within tight budgetary constraints places a slew of obstacles that leave a lot of nonprofits struggling to realize their visions.

From improving relationships with your donors and other constituents to improving efficiency through better resource management, the right technology can bring transformational results to your organization. The challenge lies in choosing the right solutions that align with your goals. Here are some essential technologies that every nonprofit should be setting their sights on:

Mobile Device Management

Few technologies have seen such rapid growth and have had such a profound effect on society as the smartphone. Today, it’s hard to imagine any business functioning without mobile technology by its side. That said, smartphones do introduce some important security concerns. Most significantly, they’re a lot more likely to get lost or stolen than an office desktop.

For cash-strapped nonprofits, one option for saving money is to allow volunteers and staff to use their own devices for work. However, this also means you won’t have as much control over device security. Fortunately, mobile device management software (MDM) allows you to safely develop a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program that lets administrators retain control over your organization’s apps and data. That way, you can reap the benefits of workforce mobility without the high costs and security headaches.

Customer Relationship Management

Small nonprofits often still rely heavily on manual data entry, using simple tools like spreadsheets to store information about donors. Others don’t have any established system at all, resulting in inconsistent data entry. What’s more, most nonprofits lack an established way to transfer documents between people, systems, and departments. If, for example, you’re still exchanging important files manually using flash drives, that’s a good example of an inefficient process.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software for nonprofits provides you with a centralized system for recording donor information. Typically hosted in the cloud in the form of web-based applications, these systems greatly simplify workflows by eliminating the need to enter data multiple times into different systems. Instead, all your staff will have access to the same information in real time.

CRM also helps you do more with data by giving you valuable insights into performance, all for a single monthly fee. That’s a small price to pay for greatly improved efficiency.

VoIP Telephony

Every organization depends heavily on its communications infrastructure to succeed, and nonprofits are no exception. However, some organizations tend to spend far too much on telecommunications. Nonprofits can’t afford to waste money on overpriced phone calls, but neither can they tolerate a situation where it’s impossible to keep everyone in the loop and work effectively as a team.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provides a flexible and scalable communications infrastructure that greatly expands upon the possibilities of the simple landline. You can also have your virtual phone system hosted in the cloud so that any volunteer or member of staff can access and use it with any internet-enabled device. Moreover, calls between internet-connected devices are also free, while calls to conventional phone numbers tend to be greatly discounted. At the same time, you have a phone system that travels with you no matter where you go.

Cloud Hosting

Many nonprofits can’t afford to have their own in-house IT departments, and maintaining and upgrading in-house hardware is likely to be prohibitively expensive. From major capital expenditures to bills to repair unforeseen problems, modern technology can be a huge financial burden.

That’s where the cloud comes in. Cloud computing simply refers to the process of having applications running over the internet through a browser. This means that most of the computing workloads are handled in an off-site data center, so all you need on your end is any internet-enabled device, whether it’s an office desktop or a smartphone.

With the cloud, you always have immediate access to the newest software and other computing resources, and repairs, maintenance and upgrades are entirely the responsibility of the hosting company. You’ll also have far better control over your budget, since it turns your IT infrastructure into a predictable monthly operational cost.

Dyrand Systems uses its technology and expertise to help nonprofits improve efficiency while reducing costs. Talk to one of our experts today to get your free technology assessment.

What Canadian Companies Need to Know About GDPR

What Canadian Companies Need to Know About GDPR

If your organization does business with citizens of the EU, then you’ll need to make sure you’re up to date with the new GDPR legislation. The General Data Protection Regulation will become enforceable on May 25, 2018, and the penalties for failing to comply can reach up to 4% of your global annual revenue.

The big question that many companies based in Canada have been asking over the past year is how the legislation concerns them. The first and most important thing to understand is that GDPR is designed to protect the privacy of all EU citizens. It doesn’t matter whether you don’t have a physical presence within any EU territory – if your activities involve collecting the personal data of any EU citizen, then you’ll need to be compliant.

GDPR will apply to your company if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • You monitor the digital activities of EU citizens, such as with tracking cookies.
  • You have a physical presence or representation within any EU territory.
  • You offer goods or services directly to EU citizens.
  • You have business partners that process data within the EU on your behalf.
  • You have any supply chain members or B2B clients based in the EU.

What Do You Need to Do to Become Compliant?

To avoid being hit by enormous fines and suffering severe damage to your reputation, it’s important to understand the purpose of the GDPR legislation. Unsurprisingly, the law aligns with Canada’s own PIPEDA law in many ways, which should make your journey toward compliance somewhat easier. However, there are some important differences between the two, so you’ll still need to conduct a separate compliance assessment for GDPR.

Unlike PIPEDA, GDPR defines two types of entities that must be compliant. There are Controllers, who decide how personal data is processed and for what purpose; and Processors, who process data on their behalf. For example, a cloud storage provider or a backup and disaster-recovery service might be considered a Processor. It is important that you understand this definition because, as a Controller, you’ll be legally obliged to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). Moreover, the responsibility falls on you to ensure that any company that processes data on your behalf is also compliant per their obligations as a Processor.

Since you don’t have much time left to become compliant, you’ll need to act as soon as possible by establishing a compliance roadmap. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the legislation, you’ll want to start the process by identifying every data-bearing system and processor your business relies on. Create a complete list of internal and outsourced assets, including applications, file servers, backup and cloud storage facilities, hosted apps, and mobile devices. Once you have built a complete inventory of all your digital assets, you’ll be ready to conduct a risk assessment and deal with any potential gaps in compliance.

Although there is a great deal of crossover between PIPEDA and GDPR, GDPR introduces much stricter rules on data breach notifications and the appointment of a data-protection officer. By contrast, PIPEDA does not set any legal deadline for reporting data breaches, while GDPR demands that companies alert the relevant compliance authorities, as well as anyone affected by the breach, within 72 hours of it being discovered.

Once you’ve carried out a risk assessment and a thorough overview of your current compliance status, it will be time to fill in the gaps. The next thing you will need to do is appoint a data-protection officer who will be responsible for overseeing your data-protection strategy to ensure compliance. This member of your team will also need to routinely audit your business’s compliance efforts. This way, if you were to fall foul of the GDPR, you should have evidence to demonstrate that you took major steps to secure your data and protect customers’ privacy, therefore absolving yourself of a degree of responsibility.

What Are the Benefits of Achieving Compliance?

Despite the extra costs and red tape involved in becoming GDPR-compliant, there are a few ways it can directly benefit your business. For example, as organizations struggle to keep up with ever-changing regulations, you could view compliance as a competitive advantage. Furthermore, given how quickly things change, it’s always wise to stay one step ahead when it comes to matters of compliance and security. In fact, Canada’s very own PIPEDA legislation is due to be updated later this year with some additions that will bring it closer in line with GDPR.

Achieving regulatory compliance is much harder if you’re running a small business and doing everything yourself. Dyrand Systems is here to make technology easier and more effective all while helping you meet your security and compliance obligations. Talk to us today to get started with a free assessment.

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