It used to be that technology and nonprofits were like oil and water. Technology costs money, and nonprofits don’t have much in the coffers. But, as tech companies and services boom, free entry models and nonprofit pricing tiers are becoming more common. Even small nonprofits are now able to incorporate technology to maximize communication and action.
What Type of Nonprofit Technology do we Mean?
“Technology” is a broad term but in this case we are typically talking about computer and software technologies that can help a nonprofit. This can be anything from using PowerPoint at your next meeting to a cloud based service that makes it easy to get recurring donations. Here are some examples of technology and nonprofits:
- Office 365 to organize docs, reports, forms & letters.
- DonorSearch to bolster your fundraising.
- WordPress to power your website.
- Google Analytics to understand your audience.
- iPads at events to gather attendee data.
- VolunteerMatch to get more volunteers.
- MoneyMinder to manage your accounting.
- Facebook and other social media to connect with members.
- Square to take credit cards for donations and dues.
- MailChimp to spread your mission far and wide.
- The list goes on!
Feel overwhelmed when it comes to technology and nonprofits? Here are a few simple rules to keep in mind.
DO get buy-in from all your members. It’s hard to implement technological advancements when those at the top aren’t on board. Even the oldest dogs can learn these new tricks if it helps achieve the mission.
DON’T jump on any band wagons. Especially true for small nonprofits with limited resources, be careful not to jump on a trend too early before it is vetted and costs level out.
DO allocate budget when you’ll get a return. If implementing Square or DonorSearch can help you raise more funds, you will see a return on your investment.
DON’T collect more data than you need. There’s likely no reason for the local PTA to know a member’s birthdate or dog’s name. Always err on the side of protecting your community’s data.
DO share the purpose of your technology investment. As a nonprofit, your finances are more open to scrutiny than a business. Be sure to share the purpose of the investment with constituents.
DON’T overdo automation. Yes, you can send automated emails based on user responses, but at the end of the day, nothing can replace the personal touch of a real human.
DO provide training where needed. Remember the old dogs we mentioned above? If you are trying to incorporate technology for your nonprofit and someone doesn’t understand it, it’s your job to show them.