Nonprofit organizations, like any other, rely on technology to support their business operations. From fundraising, donor management, marketing, to grant applications, the nonprofit sector relies just as heavily on digital technology, platforms, and solutions as any other organization to achieve its mission.
To ensure technology investment is productive, it is important to approach new technology purchases and projects strategically. It is vital to have a plan in place before deciding to begin new projects that rely on technology or require new investment.
A technology strategy is an overall plan for how your nonprofit organization will use digital technologies to achieve its mission and business goals. It’s important to have a strategic approach when approaching new technologies or projects that rely on digital tools because it helps determine what tools are best suited and provides direction for the future.
A formal technology strategy can also help build organizational capacity by providing clarity around decision-making processes, as well as accountability for results. In addition, it can be used as a communication tool to improve internal alignment between departments and teams about how they are using digital technologies to accomplish their work in day-to-day operations. Finally, it can help identify areas for improvement and areas for future investment.
Most organizations today are using information technology in some way to deliver on their mission. Traditionally the nonprofit sector operates on smaller or tight budgets, so the cost of upgrading digital tools or buying up-to-date technology can seem prohibitive. However, the effective use of technology has so many benefits that end up saving nonprofits time and money. Strategic IT implementation can increase innovation, improve efficiency, streamline reporting and compliance, allocate resources better, and deliver on the organization’s mission, which offers a huge return on investment.
However, as more digital tools emerge, it can be difficult to determine which ones will be the best fit for your organization’s needs. Projects can also get bogged down when teams are not clear about how they will use digital tools to achieve their goals. Having a strategy in place helps ensure that your organization is making informed decisions about new technologies or projects that rely on technology, while also providing clarity around decision-making processes and accountability for results, as well as considering budget constraints.
Working hard to develop a comprehensive digital business strategy is just as important in the long term, as it is for your marketing and fundraising campaigns. Consider every element of your operations, both internal and donor or stakeholder, to make sure that technology aligns with them as well.
Crafting a nonprofit technology plan will not only help streamline your operations and support the development of your organization but there is less chance for failure.
Before beginning work on your technology strategy, it is important to set goals for how you will use digital technologies to achieve your organization’s mission. These goals should align with the organization’s mission and strategic plan. For example, if your organization has an overarching goal of better engaging with potential donors through digital channels, then you can use that goal as a starting point when thinking about how digital technologies will help you achieve those goals. Then, think about the specific ways in which digital technologies can help your organization achieve its overarching goal.
A good digital technology strategy will enable nonprofit organizations to understand which business processes or systems need to be transformed using digital technologies (replaced with new, more efficient processes) and how these transformations will take place (through an onboarding process). Strategic IT planning means identifying short and long-term costs for any digital investments and analyzing the total cost of ownership for any major investment planned.
There is no single approach to developing a technology strategy. Some organizations may have a small, informal process for developing their technology strategy, while others may have more formal and structured processes in place. It can be invaluable to consider bringing on board a technology consultant to guide the process and provide advice on how certain digital tools can help reach your goals. An IT consultant can also take the headache of researching vendors and tools that will fit with your priorities, as well as offering solutions that are both scalable and affordable.
If your nonprofit needs support in achieving strategic IT planning, talk to the IT experts at PWR Technology today, who provide IT consulting services that will ensure your nonprofit has a clear vision for your IT strategy to achieve your goals and vision.