You’ve read up on the latest nonprofit technology trends. You know that mobile fundraising, digital marketing and electronic payments are the wave of the future that has already arrived. You admit that even your low tech door to door canvassing would be more effective with the right technology behind it. So what’s holding you back from taking your nonprofit to the next level?
Chances are that your concerns are ones that other organizations, even small, grassroots ones, have faced and overcome. Let’s look at three common barriers and how you can effectively address them.
1) Budget – Yes, the dreaded “b” word. “Small” would be a kind word to describe your technology budget. That incredible software solution that you did include in your budget may require all sorts of hardware that is not in your budget. You are not alone, and, in response, many resources have been developed to help organizations like yours. There is an entire world of programs and websites which offer free or discounted software, services, or hardware. Some of the better known resources include Techsoup, Idealware, or Google for Nonprofits. There are also many, many grants out there for non-profits in all sectors which can help fund the technology solutions you need. Grantwatch, for example, has an extensive, real time database of thousands of grants.
2) Training – Your staff is dedicated and passionate about your mission, but not so tech savvy. Your volunteers are enthusiastic, but they freeze when they see that new device. Or maybe you, yourself, feel overwhelmed by the nuances of the digital world. Not a problem! Certainly any industry specific software or hardware that you purchase should include staff training as part of the package, but what about more basic training? Again, the nonprofit tech community has you covered. The Center for Nonprofit Resources has a great list of training programs available to nonprofits in all areas.
3) Mobile Solutions – Your most effective work isn’t done only in your office. Out in the field is where you can reach the most people with your message. But that is also where your digital service breaks down, rendering your technology useless. It can make you yearn for a pen and paper that never needs wi-fi coverage or loses functionality in a bad cell. On the other hand, with pen and paper you also get lost information and hours of data entry. Fortunately, digital solutions are available that work even when digital service is not. Grassroots Unwired, for example, offers a mobile app that works offline when needed and allows all the data collected to integrate back to your CRM.
Any discussion of nonprofit technology support is incomplete without mention of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). NTEN is a membership group of nonprofit technology professionals created to help nonprofits use all aspects of technology more effectively. Their annual Nonprofit Technology Conference is attended by thousands and showcases a huge variety of nonprofit technology solutions and innovations.
Moving your nonprofit forward requires forward thinking technology. Take advantage of the many resources that are out there to help you along.