While savvy professionals in the business world constantly seek the latest opportunities for extending their reach and improving their efficiency, that doesn’t always seem to be the case in the nonprofit world. But nonprofits can benefit from the latest tech advances too! These same powerful innovations can help nonprofits streamline, automate, organize, and simplify, thereby letting them focus on their mission instead of busywork.
Unfortunately, too few nonprofit organizations are taking advantage of technology—unless they have the right assistance. Therefore, it’s a matter of making the right assistance available to them.
Tech Problems That Nonprofits Face
Consider this: Although the nonprofit sector is huge and ranges from big, national-scale organizations to smaller, locally based, volunteer-led ones, nearly every nonprofit is trying to accomplish the most it can with limited resources. But few of them are taking advantage of the technology that could properly assist them in their missions, saving them both money and time.
This is bad because effective use of resources is something grantors look for, meaning nonprofits could be missing out on more funds and opportunities than they might realize.
It’s not for lack of trying or lack of wanting to take advantage of technology. But this change takes resources, including:
- An initial investment in the technology
- Training or knowledge of how to use the technology (either volunteer or paid)
- Time invested in transferring all processes to this new technology
When a nonprofit doesn’t have the resources to make the switch from its old-school methods to these advanced, more effective ones, sometimes it’s just easier to keep doing things the outdated way.
Educating Students Together
One such nonprofit we recently saw flourish thanks to making the switch is Educating Students Together. We’re citing this specific example because we conducted a case study of their specific problems, solutions, and growth as we worked with them to implement tech that would help further their mission.
EST is a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and improving the quality of life for foster and low-income youth by helping them access and complete post-secondary education.
Now, EST has been around for 35 years. And they’ve accomplished a lot in that time—every year, they serve an average of 50 high schoolers and 350 college students.
But up until recently, EST was keeping track of its data manually. Although some of the data was kept digitally, it was saved in spreadsheets rather than the latest and greatest customer relations management (CRM) software. The problem is that building a CRM is expensive. And it needs to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing. EST just didn’t have the budget or the on-staff tech expertise to make the transition. So they continued to operate by spending time scanning spreadsheets and sometimes handwritten notebooks whenever they needed information.
Tech Solutions to Ongoing Problems
EST didn’t have the opportunity to overcome these tech setbacks until they received a grant from Microsoft, which was interested in working with nonprofits that serve students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This grant allowed them to hire our company to look at their specific needs and create a custom-built CRM that would address the problems they have. We would then work closely with them to make sure they understood how to use the technology and could implement it into their regular operations. Specifically, they needed a database that would organize all the information they have on participants, donors, alumni, and volunteers.
That way, if they need to reach out to volunteers, they can pull that information quickly. If they need to follow up with a donor from a previous year, that’s easy to do. If they want to create an overview of participants who benefitted from their mission and submit that information to a grantor, they wouldn’t need to spend time reading through paper documents.
The benefits of this system are incredible. For example, EST can now use this CRM to track college acceptance letters for any student working with the organization. When that student receives more than one acceptance, EST can use technology to compare the colleges and properly guide the student in their choice of where they’ll go.
It’s also a place where they can keep contact information on social workers who are associated with their students, foster parents who have cared for their students, and the student’s institutional group home, all of which will save staff and volunteers considerable time if they need to contact the student.
By saving EST time and energy, we’ve been able to set their organization up for focusing on what matters most: their mission, and the people they serve.
You can view this study case in its entirety at: https://gryphon-consulting.com/customer-success-stories/