Non-profits have always been seen as the alternative to real business. With the rise in social enterprise and the professionalization of the non-profit sector, charities and non-profits have joined the mainstream.
Gone are the days when large non-profits run their own IT, and second-hand, donated equipment will do. Instead, non-profits need to be at the cutting edge to not only manage their day-to-day business but also ensure all campaigns and programs are reaching a wide and digitally savvy audience.
Non-Profit Tech Use
The main use of technology for non-profits will be to locate sources of funding and then apply for these. This means having adequate access to the internet for calls for funding and investing in content management systems that streamline the strategic functionality of all funding applications. Content management systems can be bought off the shelf or made bespoke or can be a managed IT service provided for the non-profit.
Advocacy and Running Campaigns
Most campaigns start online these days, and without access to the internet, the non-profit is unable to garner support widely or share with all its stakeholders. Digital communications strategies require being able to move smoothly between different online platforms seamlessly. Having a strong IT support system is vital for the success of any non-profit digital campaign.
The issues cannot speak for themselves, and as such, the work done by non-profits needs to be shared, and the best way to do this is using technology in the form of blogs and other social media.
What’s Different About the Non-Profit Sector?
There may not always be funding in the organization as they are predominantly driven by donations and external sources of funding. This means that the choices made as to what tech and how the organization interacts online will be determined and possibly constrained by cashflow.
Volunteers mean that IT users frequently change; with the use of frequent volunteers and high staff turnover, it needs to be hardy as well as easily interchangeable. There needs to be a good, networked space with sufficient cloud storage.
Can improve transparency, allowing funders and supports to see what you are doing and verify your work. The internet is a great way for funders, current and prospective, to see what the organization does and provide credibility and openness about their own support for the specific cause.
There are those IT-managed services like Online Computers who actually focus on the specific software and user experience targeted towards the non-charity sector. They have a non-profit background in one of their business leaders and, as such, understand the sector.
When looking for IT services for your non-charity, look locally first, then look to see if there are those who offer such specialized services for the non-profit sector. Be clear about the IT and tech needs of the organization and then determine whether you will require a fully managed service or set up a flexible, when and as maintenance and upgrades contract. Either way, make sure that your non-profit is mainstream where tech and connectivity are concerned.