Harnessing Technology’s Potential in Nonprofit Operations
When thinking of technological innovation, the nonprofit sector is not likely to be one of the first places to come to mind. Nonprofits serve important missions, but they often do so with limited resources. How can they leverage new technologies? Many innovations are available at reasonable costs that can significantly improve nonprofit organizations’ operations and support their missions. The following are only a few of the many possibilities.
Cost is likely to be a factor for many nonprofit organizations. They do not have the budgets to invest in extensive (and expensive) computer systems. The good news is that they do not have to purchase a vast server farm in order to take advantage of many technological solutions. They can make frugal investments in a wide variety of systems, such as cloud computing and refurbished computers. The World Economic Forum calls this “frugal innovation” and notes that it has been a successful strategy for organizations all over the world.
Centralized Donor Data (With Backups)
A donor list is often a nonprofit organization’s most valuable asset. Keeping it organized and accessible is vitally important. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow nonprofits to store all of their donor data in a central, secure location. Everyone in the organization who deals with issues involving donors will know where to find important information, saving time and improving efficiency.
The downside of centralizing anything is that if something goes wrong, you risk losing everything. CRM services typically provide backup services to ensure that your data is safe. You should make sure of this and confirm that backups are occurring on a regular basis.
Using cloud technology to store data and manage other digital processes can save significant expenses for nonprofit organizations:
- They do not need local servers as long as they have strong and reliable internet service.
- They can scale their computing needs up or down without having to buy new software or hardware.
- Employees, volunteers and others can collaborate more efficiently across great distances with cloud-based systems.
Quick, Direct Communication Systems
Nonprofit organizations need to build trust with donors, stakeholders and others in order to serve their particular mission. Ease of communication is one of the most important ways to establish trust and maintain transparency. Communications technology can ensure that messages, inquiries and reports get to the right people quickly.
Efficient and Safe Use of Mobile Devices
The concept of the “workplace” has gone through major changes in recent years. Remote work was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic began, but now it is a fact of life for countless people. Many organizations have allowed employees to continue to work remotely. The rise of remote work can benefit nonprofits by enabling them to retain talent from other cities and states who do not need to report to an office.
Keeping clear lines of communication is essential with any workforce, but especially one that is partially or wholly remote. Mobile devices can now perform many of the same functions as computers and are commonly used for work purposes. Nonprofits can leverage smartphones and tablets to improve efficiency, but they should keep security issues in mind.
Allowing remote access to any computer system brings cybersecurity risks. Organizations can provide mobile devices to employees to use exclusively for work purposes, but that can lead to rather significant expenses. They can also invest in a mobile device management (MDM) system that protects an organization’s devices and data.
Efficient use of MDM software can allow a nonprofit to enact a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, in which employees use their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for work purposes. BYOD has gained significant popularity among businesses and nonprofits.
Data Analysis with Artificial Intelligence
As mentioned, nonprofit organizations possess data that could be of great value. Few nonprofits are able to take full advantage of that value, though, typically because they do not have the resources to hire expert data analysts. Artificial intelligence (AI) can provide some data analysis services at a much lower cost.
Examples of how AI can help nonprofits may include the following:
- Identify duplicate or missing data, inconsistent formatting and other errors in donor databases;
- Find patterns or trends in donor data, such as periods of time when donations are particularly high or low, geographic areas with high levels of donations and demographic groups that are most likely to donate; and
- Create donor groups based on common factors, which can improve an organization’s fundraising efforts.
Learn How Technology Can Serve Your Organization’s Mission
Technology is constantly advancing, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments while running an impactful nonprofit. Help is available to guide your organization toward cutting-edge tech that can enhance its performance and improve its efficiency. Contact us with questions.