Here’s a topic we can talk about for a solid hour: how nonprofits can use the latest technology to navigate challenges and implement solutions. We’ve talked in the past about how nonprofits sometimes aren’t as adequately able to keep up with the latest technology the same way big businesses can. After all, many nonprofits rely on volunteers, and they have to make as much use out of limited resources to accomplish their mission.
But technology really should still be a priority.
To explore this importance, we hosted a fireside chat and talked with three representatives from nonprofit organizations our business serves. Although these are large nonprofits with more budget to spend and more staff members involved, they still have limited resources compared with the huge mission they are up against. And they know the importance of doing the absolute most with the resources they have. Technology goes a long way in helping them accomplish that.
At this Fireside Chat, we talked with:
- Amber Brown, director of operations for For Oak Cliff, a nonprofit that strives to help its community overcome systemic oppression through education while also increasing social mobility and social capital.
- Jude Shingle, arts program director for Erie Center for Arts & Technology, which provides adult career training programs and afterschool arts programs for teens in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
- Yasmin Delahoussaye, program director for Educating Students Together, which seeks to empower economically disadvantaged students in their pursuit of college education.
Although their approaches differed slightly, all three agreed that technology plays a critical role in the success of their respective organizations. It helps them streamline what they do, reduce menial busywork, improve communications, and ultimately make better use of their resources so that they can focus on achieving their goals.
Technology also makes it easier for these nonprofits to share their success with not only those who could benefit from their mission, but also from stakeholders such as donors and volunteers. Technology can be used to handle administrative tasks like scheduling meetings, or it can be used to track donations and measure progress. It can also make all relevant documents accessible to people working in remote locations. These are just a few of the capabilities a nonprofit can enjoy when making the most of technology!
So, if you’re a nonprofit organization, what does this mean for you? Here are four key takeaways from our fireside chat that you should do as part of your nonprofit’s goals to improve your operations.
4 Key Takeaways
1. Understand the different types of technology that are available to nonprofits
Technology is becoming increasingly more important for nonprofit organizations to use. It can help streamline operations and increase efficiency, leading to greater effectiveness in fulfilling your mission.
Specifically, it’s important to understand the different types of technology that are available to you today. Examples include software used for tracking donations and managing grant cycles, vendor-specific integrations that interface with accounting software, online campaigns such as those used on crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, or messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to facilitate communication between staff members.
2. Evaluate your needs and decide which technologies are best for your organization
First, analyze what areas of your organization could benefit from improvement. What processes would be more effective with the help of customizable software? Is there any manual labor that could be made easier through automation?
Once you identify these points, you can explore your options and determine which technologies are best for your nonprofit organization. It is vital to remember that the most expensive option isn’t always the best—it’s important to look at specific features and make sure they align with what you hope to accomplish before investing in new technologies.
3. Train staff on how to use the new technologies and make sure everyone is on board
Once you determine which technologies will work best for your organization, then it’s a matter of training everyone on your team. For larger and mid-size nonprofits, this could include staff, but in addition to your employed team members, you also might need to train your volunteers. Some volunteers could have experience with these technology options already, but others might be used to doing things the old-fashioned way. Your best approach is to emphasize the efficiency that these technological advances offer—it makes it easier to accomplish your mission with less effort.
4. Monitor usage and tweak as needed to ensure continued success
Most nonprofits will tell you that not every technological solution they implemented worked as well as they expected it to. In some cases, you may decide that it just isn’t worth it—you’re better off retiring one tech capability to focus on another. That’s okay! Making good use of technology is about honestly assessing what works and what doesn’t, so you can tweak it to continue your success.
Technology is a powerful tool for nonprofits to help them achieve their goals and make the most of their resources. Microsoft technology solutions can be especially useful for nonprofits looking to optimize operations and increase efficiency. With technology, nonprofits can better serve their beneficiaries and reach more people with their mission.