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:
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.
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.
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.
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.