Developing a technology blueprint has become an important component in operating a nonprofit. Like any type of organization, nonprofit success is shaped by their short or strategic goal, as well as long-term plans. Part of this is defining a set of technology priorities to further the nonprofit’s mission into the community.
But what are the essential components of tech planning in nonprofits?
Invest in People
Recruiting a number of tech staff depends on several factors, including the size of the nonprofit, the amount of work required, and budgetary considerations. However, investing in people has been one of the core steps in the development and implementation of a tech plan, especially for a nonprofit with zero to basic technological know-how. In their 10th annual report, the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) said that leading nonprofits recruit more tech staff compared to struggling organizations. They also have a higher tech adoption level within their organization.
Investing in people also means giving importance to stakeholder input. Nonprofits should develop their technology plans in consultation with their internal tech staff, or even their tech providers. As experts in the field, they can give contextual knowledge as IT professionals working in the nonprofit industry. With a more realistic point of view, they can help identify the gaps in the system, recommend solutions, and identify current IT trends that can assist the nonprofit.
Define Specific Goals
This is probably the core of the technology plan. But, before outlining the specific goals for the nonprofit, divide targets in terms of timeframe. There may be several strategic goals that the nonprofit wants to achieve within a year, whereas there may be several that requires a longer time frame. Some of the key nonprofit areas where technology can be leveraged include advocacy and fundraising. The blueprint may also include improving internal administrative processes, from program delivery and monitoring to financial and grants management.
Technology can help nonprofits increase their digital presence online. Whether for fundraising and marketing efforts, technology can assist in improving community mobilization and networking. Technology tools can also be used to grow online numbers by optimizing website or social media performance. This is important in advocacy work, where messaging about a nonprofit’s cause and projects can potentially generate support from the community and expand interest from potential donors.
After the goals and timelines have been identified, identifying resources is the next step. These include human, capital, and infrastructure resources that can help the non profit accomplish the goals in their tech plan. When identifying resources, several things should be considered including viability and cost-effectiveness of the investment when compared with the overall mission of the nonprofit.
Even industry experts agree on the need for nonprofits to leverage the power of technology. The NTEN report detailed that more than a majority of the leading nonprofits surveyed incorporate technology into their organizational plan. These nonprofits also invest human and budgetary resources to accomplish their technology goals and improve overall operations.