With the economy shifting, many nonprofit organizations are reevaluating where to focus their time and budgets for the next year. In many organizations, additional investment in technology is one line item that is not prioritized in times of uncertainty.
Consider these opportunities to maximize the value of a nonprofit’s tech stack.
IDENTIFY THE BEST TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION
Technology allows a nonprofit to become more efficient and improve their operations.
There are a few ways that technology can improve essential processes:
- A well-functioning and well-designed website with links to useful information can increase both donor and volunteer engagement.
- Software can help with scheduling, assigning tasks and providing training to enhance the volunteer experience.
- Email automation to streamline donor communications (sending automated thank you messages, reminders, tax receipts, etc.) can increase donor engagement.
- Applications that automate accounts payable, email marketing and social media campaigns can free up time and resources that could be spent on the mission.
- A chatbot on the website can answer basic questions, saving time and offering immediate responses to any interested donors or volunteers.
On the other hand, putting off necessary technology investments may hinder a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission. Outdated software, for example, can be more susceptible to malware and viruses and data breaches.
CONSIDER NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
There are opportunities to adopt new technology with grant funding, allowing nonprofits to think past their current operational budget.
When estimating technology costs, there are a few factors to consider:
- Pricing: Adopting new software may include hardware, training, consultants and a fee per number of users. Consider your headcount and resources for full implementation in addition to the cost of the software.
- Maintenance: After the initial cost, it is important to consider the cost and labor required to use this technology. Budget dollars for maintenance and upgrades.
- Compatibility: Often, a piece of software is not used in isolation. Consider whether this technology can integrate with other applications and systems and whether an additional cost will be required for integration support.
- Experience: Consult with other nonprofits who have made similar investments to assist with coming up with a true cost estimate that encompasses the above.
LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISCOUNTED AND PRO-BONO SERVICES
Nonprofits often have access to high-level technology at a lower cost than the for-profit sector. Here are a few examples to consider:
- Through a service like TechSoup, nonprofits are potentially eligible for donated or discounted software, hardware and services. This organization also offers courses, community events and webinars for additional education around nonprofits and technology.
- Many large software companies such as Microsoft offer direct discounts and/or grants for nonprofits.
- Going further, some software providers offer Corporate Social Responsibility programs to assist nonprofits. Google Ads offers grants, and Salesforce has a Pro Bono program to assist nonprofit and education customers on short-term, non-urgent Salesforce projects.
- Volunteer work can also be used to offset technology costs. Taproot Foundation
and Catchafire are two organizations that match skilled volunteers with nonprofits that could benefit from their services.
TALK TO YOUR BOARD ABOUT TECHNOLOGY NEEDS
With this in mind, the next step would be to clearly communicate any technology needs to your board of directors. They can be a resource to make needed connections related to technology and help with strategic planning and fundraising in this area.
To learn more about technology and the resources available to nonprofits, please contact GHJ’s Nonprofit Team.