Running a nonprofit organization can be a challenging but rewarding venture. Unlike a traditional business model, there’s a greater emphasis on filling different community needs practically and affordably. However, with nearly 60% of nonprofit organizations being a charity, money can be an ongoing struggle that requires smart budgeting. Since companies can use technology for both spreading awareness and day-to-day functions, IT is an integral part of that.
Unfortunately, many nonprofits have lagged behind their competitors’ technology and IT services. It’s easy to call something good enough and tolerate outdated hardware and tech strategies, especially when funding is tight. However, avoiding modernization has been one factor that’s contributed to 30% of nonprofits no longer existing after 10 years. While sustainability can be an ongoing concern, getting the most out of nonprofit IT services can support a longer-lasting organization.
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What Are Nonprofit IT Services?
Nonprofit IT services cover many cost-effective technology solutions, services, and benefits. That can include IT consultations, software installation, hardware upgrades, helpdesk support, cybersecurity, and more. Nonprofits are often more cost-sensitive than many businesses, leading to limited funds for anything technology-related. Fortunately, IT companies can cater to each organization’s unique needs and help them get the most from their IT budget.
Create a Mission Statement
Every nonprofit has an underlying reason for what they do. However, it can be easy to lose sight of that. To get the most out of their IT services, it’s important to have a clear and concise mission statement to communicate the organization’s needs. Doing so allows IT teams to better focus their work on areas that align with that objective. In contrast, if a company is trying to do a dozen different things at once, then resources can be spread too thin. Here’s an example of a mission statement:
A nonprofit committed to giving high-need Florida residents with cheap, accessible, and locally sourced grocery delivery.
Using that example, an IT team would know to focus on areas that involve customer interactions and public awareness. That could include creating a company website, considering a food app solution, integrating with social media, and finding ways to minimize IT costs. In general, a mission statement shouldn’t be more than 2-3 sentences long. In the case of the Coca-Cola Company, they simplified it to six words: “Refresh the world. Make a difference.” While there are many approaches, saying more with fewer words clarifies the focus.
List Specific IT Needs
Nonprofits should list out specific IT areas they need support. There are multiple sides to developing that list. The first one is focusing on company needs and priorities, such as creating an interactive app, strengthening cybersecurity, or automating certain functions. On the other side are employee needs, like upgrading outdated hardware, improving network connectivity, and streamlining the workflow. Customer needs should always factor in, too. That process can most easily be done with an IT consultant, who not only gathers vital information but can also provide additional insight on often overlooked issues.
Find The Right IT Provider
With a mission statement and a list of needs, the next step is finding the right IT provider. Since nonprofits run on tighter margins, high-quality services at a lower cost are a priority. Due to that, outsourced IT is often recommended since it can offer the best of both. Outsourcing also offers other advantages, including scalability, 24/7 helpdesk support, and familiarity with effective solutions used across various industries.
Using a local IT company comes with additional options like on-site troubleshooting and hardware installation. Since technology is vital to many functions, minimizing downtime can prevent costly setbacks. As one example, a 5-hour computer outage cost Delta Air Lines $150 million. Due to situations like that, an IT partner should be viewed as a long-term choice. It’s worth taking the time to contact multiple MSPs to find the best fit. Doing so will ensure a nonprofit can get the best possible services that match its needs.
Make Sure the Services Match the Budget
It’s easy to think big and be ambitious when using new technology strategies. While nonprofit IT services are designed to be cost-effective, they’re still reliant on the allocated budget. Make sure to clearly understand what’s being offered, how much each component costs, and how sustainable those expenses are. While proactive IT spending can help an organization gain a broader reach, it’s vital to ensure it aligns with month-to-month funding. When discussing a service cost plan, check for scalable IT options that allow more flexibility with long-term changes in the budget.
Communication Is Key
Like most businesses, nonprofits must adapt to evolving consumer needs, market conditions, and budget changes. Even if the goal is the same, how that’s reached often changes as time goes on. Whether expanding to serve a larger region or shifting staff to work remotely, having early discussions can ensure a smoother transition. However, 74% of workers say they’re missing vital information due to a lack of communication. It can be costly to any organization, whether it leads to wasted time or lost productivity. Since the IT team is involved in any technology strategies, two-way communication is key to making the most of nonprofit IT services.
Whether running a nonprofit business or a volunteer-driven organization, making the right IT choices is essential. Since IT services can help in a variety of ways, taking the extra time and effort can help any organization get the most out of their IT. Even with due diligence, finding the right IT service provider isn’t always easy, though. MSPs like ITonDemand not only offer effective and affordable IT solutions but also have experience with the demands and limits of the nonprofit industry.