When it comes to IT staffing, smaller or cash-strapped nonprofits can find themselves at a disadvantage. One-quarter of organizations surveyed in 2017 by NTEN (formerly the Nonprofit Technology Network) report they have no one with official tech responsibilities working for the organization.
Nonprofits with budgets less than $1 million are also more likely to spend less on IT per staff member, the report found. And groups with fewer employees are less apt to have the proper security measures to ward off online criminals.
When it comes to staying on top of trends or navigating an unexpected crisis, those deficits can be a big problem. On a more basic level, such disconnect can keep a nonprofit from functioning smoothly and efficiently.
That’s why it’s important to make sure whoever handles your organization’s IT needs is able to answer the following questions:
1. Is Our Software and Equipment Up to Date?
Working with outdated technology doesn’t just slow down the pace of business. Inefficiencies can drain money from your operating budget as well as give your competitors the advantage. Worse, outdated software can leave you vulnerable to crippling cyberattacks. Updates and patches to software are critical in addressing weaknesses that could be targeted.
2. Are We Using the Right Fundraising Program?
A nonprofit’s IT staff is instrumental in procuring and maintaining the digital tools that keep the organization funded. But if the tools aren’t working effectively, you should address the technological roadblocks holding back progress. Among them: difficulties managing donor information, trouble formatting data and trying to keep track of multiple spreadsheets.
3. Are We Prepared for a Natural Disaster?
The threat of storms, earthquakes and fires — not to mention other unexpected events, such as burglary — can quickly throw any business into chaos. Prepare for the worst by making sure your IT staff has a disaster recovery plan in place. Make sure employees have digital copies of the plan, which should be updated regularly and include different protocol for various scenarios.
4. Have We Taken Enough Security Precautions?
Regardless of size or mission, no business is immune from cyberattacks. A 2016 Cisco report found that 40 percent of respondents at companies with fewer than 500 employees cited budget constraints as the biggest obstacle to adopting advanced security processes and technology. Evaluate what measures are worth your nonprofit’s dollar; the investment could be invaluable.
5. Are Tech Needs Covered in Our Strategic Plan?
Addressing your technology goals is crucial to long-term success, which is why, beyond their day-to-day roles, IT staff should be involved in the creation of your strategic plan. Giving IT staff a seat at the table helps ensure that employees and volunteers have the right tech tools (and protective measures) to perform at their best.