Building Custom Applications for Nonprofits
While Google Workspace, Zoom and Microsoft Office are great starting points for building a team that can collaborate from anywhere, nonprofit organizations may need more specialized applications to fulfill their missions.
There are options that serve both at a high level and in more depth. Low-code or no-code tools such as Microsoft PowerApps and ServiceNow’s App Engine can provide a way to test the waters. These tools can build applications that help solve specific problems or integrate into external databases quickly.
Some solutions will require more development than low-code and no-code tools. Custom-built applications can keep an organization’s infrastructure moving. In the association space, for example, it is common for groups to build custom applications to encourage their members to advocate for a given cause on social media. This approach can help amplify a cause; the National Restaurant Association’s use of social media advocacy early in the pandemic is a good example.
Building an app can be a lot of work to take on in-house, especially given the number of devices that developers need to account for, but it could be an opportunity to collaborate with an outside partner, such as CDW Amplified™ services, to help strategize the right approach and build for it.
Leaning on Ruggedized Gadgets in the Field
Whether your staff is on the front lines serving your nonprofit’s mission or your volunteers are doing crucial advocacy work to drive donations or petition signatures, technology is now mandatory in the field. However, fieldwork can wear down your mobile devices, slowing down your team and potentially creating unexpected costs over time. After all, if 72 percent of people have accidentally broken a cellphone in the past, odds are good that your organization might run into a cracked screen or two.
That’s where ruggedization comes in, casing devices in material that is tougher to break, such as magnesium and polycarbonate, with rubberized outer shells that can minimize the effect of spills.
There are two directions that nonprofits can take to ruggedize their devices: acquiring gadgets built for rugged use cases, such as Panasonic’s military-grade Toughbook line, or buying specialized cases for Apple iPads, Chromebooks and other devices that are built to handle drops and situations where damage is likely.
Ruggedization doesn’t just mean high-end or ultraspecialized products, either. HP’s recently announced Fortis line of Chromebooks, built for the classroom, could also be a good fit for nonprofits looking to balance technical flexibility and rough-and-tumble fieldwork when it launches this year.