Jun 25 2018

What Nonprofits Should Ask When Hiring Freelance IT Help

When bringing in a contractor to assist with technology needs, be sure to ask the right questions to ensure you’re selecting the best candidate.

Not every nonprofit has the means or money to maintain an in-house technology team, or even a full-time staff member dedicated to the cause.

In fact, some organizations operate without any guidance at all. The 2017 State of Nonprofit Technology Report by Cureo, a company that makes collaboration software for nonprofits, found that 18 percent of surveyed nonprofits have no IT-specific employee or consultant due to lack of funds or need.

The smallest nonprofits, another recent survey found, tend to spend the most on IT as part of their overall budget compared to their larger peers. As a result, some nonprofits might consider hiring a freelance IT specialist.

The perks to contracting outside talent can be many. Nonprofits can gain access to specialized skills, on-demand scheduling and a projected annual savings of 20 to 30 percent compared to the cost of having a salaried individual on board.

For nonprofits, which must make the most of every dollar on technology, those elements can be crucial to maintaining key services and efficiencies.

The following questions can help guide nonprofits as they search for freelance IT talent:

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Does Your Availability Match Our Needs?

By nature, freelance help is temporary. Companies typically contract help via a fixed-price project or at an hourly rate. Make sure, then, that the candidate is available to complete a given project (or work during the hours) that your organization needs.

DIME Agency, a digital and creative marketing agency, conducts a careful review of a candidate’s portfolio, reads online reviews and looks for people who are digital “influencers” when hiring freelancers.

Is Your IT Skill Set Up to Date?

A main concern of Cureo survey participants? Not staying current or updated on technology (34.5 percent). Nonprofits must ask freelancers about their specific abilities that can help to fill the void. Scrutinize his or her resume and LinkedIn page for the skills and certifications you want.

For an extra layer of vetting, consider word-of-mouth recommendations from peer groups that have used the same contractors on similar projects.

Can You Improve Our Tech Profile?

From updating office equipment to installing software that analyzes donor data, freelance IT consultants could be brought on board for a variety of needs to help a nonprofit boost its tech acumen.

But consider the specifics carefully — without an operating strategy or long-term plan, IT goals can be shortsighted, poorly aligned or even unnecessary when put into motion. A key element to consider, regardless of size or scope: boosting security measures to thwart cyberattacks.

This Is Our Technology Problem. How Would You Solve It?

The best part of hiring freelance help? You’re able to target someone that specifically fits your needs. Bring all technology issues to the table when interviewing candidates; offer a list of projects you’re trying to tackle during the discussion.

An effective freelancer will answer thoughtfully with forward-looking specifics that add impactful short-term value and boost ROI. That way, you can feel comfortable handing off the tech to-do list for your nonprofit.

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