Tackling the Blind Spots in Nonprofit Technology

Fixing the Problems you didn’t know you had

Nonprofit technology is better than ever. Between SaaS platforms, quantum leaps in web design and the power of mobile devices, digital strategy is much more of a necessity for nonprofits than it was just a few years ago. These technological advances have driven tremendous advances in the way nonprofits interact with constituents and donors, but only about 12 percent of organizations self-identify as technological leaders, while the rest said they were barely maintaining—or failing to maintain—their technology systems.

In an environment like this, nonprofit technology needs to accomplish more than it ever has, while simultaneously consuming less resources. The pressure to adapt is at a maximum, and there’s no room for error. Chances are, you’ve already tried to step back and evaluate your own technological progress. But have you asked the right questions, and are you prepared to map out a plan of action once you’ve established an answer?

The following checklist will help you hone in on the potential holes in your technology, which in turn will allow you to start making the changes that really matter.

Is Your Current Tech Up to Snuff?

The Problem:  Building technology in a growing organization requires planning, foresight, and a centralized strategy. Oftentimes, one of the biggest hurdles to growing a business is developing an integrated plan towards building and designing technology for employees and constituents.

Statistics show that online giving is dramatically increasing in importance, and nonprofits will need to adopt new technologies if they want to prepare for the latest advances.

However, if there was something wrong with your current technology, it would be tough to pinpoint and even harder to fix. Did you know, for instance, that 44% of mobile users say navigating a web page is difficult and 46% complained of difficulties interacting with it?

Nonprofits who lead the pack in tech adoption conduct regular and rigorous ROI analysis. It’s important to make sure you’re constantly contextualizing your technology in a way that optimizes its functionality.

Did You Know? The rate of nonprofit IT hiring is on the rise, but 20 percent of new hires are used to fill recently turned-over slots. Is your technology streamlined enough for new hires to pick up?

Does Your Technology Actually Complement Your Business Goals?

The Problem:  Growing organizations often need to re-evaluate whether their current digital landscape fits into their greater overall scheme.

According to recent reports, nonprofits “feel relatively confident that they have the tools to do their every-day work,” but are less confident in whether their staff or training are robust enough for their technology to be truly effective.

Your organization’s mission should inform your technology, which should bolster your staff, which should serve your constituency. If at any point your technology is tipping this balance in the wrong direction, it may be time to rethink its implementation.

Is Your Platform Prepared for the Worst?

The Problem:  Recent natural disasters have increased executive awareness and internal pressure to create a plan to prevent or recover from disasters.

While disaster prevention can seem like an auxiliary technological concern, studies show that only 86 percent of organizations back up their records on a regular basis, and only 69 percent keep clear documentation of how and where critical data is stored.

The myth that disaster planning is only for major mishaps leaves organizations vulnerable to more common incidents. Whether it’s a robust privacy policy, girding a website for the onslaught of #GivingTuesday, or ensuring compliance with new government-driven regulations, many nonprofits are under-prepared to face unexpected obstacles.

Are You Spending Smart?

The Problem:  Nonprofit organizations can’t afford technology that isn’t giving them value.

According to the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, “The size of the total technology budget does not directly correlate to higher Technology Adoption Level.” When it comes to the issues that really matter, like tech adoption, higher spending isn’t as effective as smart spending.

From harnessing the power of open-source platforms, to taking advantage of software discounts for nonprofits, to maximizing user adoption rates, there are many ways for your organization to increase the value of its technology. The difficult part, of course, is to learn what your options are, and to develop a plan of action that allows you to implement them to their fullest extent.

Quick Tip: In the nonprofit sphere, Responsive Web Design has been shown to double the rate of giving on mobile devices. Is your site responsive?

When was the last time you completed an overarching analysis of your digital ecosystem?

The Problem:  You want to create a plan of action, but need a second opinion to ensure your decisions make sense in the context of your organization.

Last year, almost half of nonprofit organizations said that they don’t regularly assess the ROI of their tech spending. There is a clear and significant knowledge gap between nonprofits and the technologies that suit them best.

Unfortunately, there is no technology solution that perfectly suits every nonprofit. Something that works for the World Wildlife Fund may not work for the New York Road Runners, and so on. The best thing individual organizations can do is to get a second opinion from outside professionals who highlight important weaknesses. By gaining further context, every organization can develop a roadmap that synergizes with business goals, presents significant value, and stands out from the competition.

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