Feb 15 2024

What You Need to Unlock Nonprofit Success: App Modernization

Most nonprofits are embracing digital transformation. Here’s the lowdown on one key component of it.

As nonprofits delve into digital transformation — which nearly three quarters of them are, according to the Nonprofit Technology Network — they’ll need to consider a core precursor for success: application modernization.

App modernization, the process of updating apps to fit into a modern, (usually) cloud-first environment, helps organizations keep pace with current technology standards. It supports improved efficiency, a better user experience and more robust digital capabilities.

Those are important for any organization, but for nonprofits, it can be a critical part of mission fulfillment.

READ MORE: How app modernization fits into your digital transformation plans.

The Unique Digital Transformation Challenges Nonprofits Face

A survey of nonprofit leaders conducted by AWS shows that while most discuss technology on a frequent basis, it’s often viewed as an auxiliary part of an organization’s strategy. Only 15 percent of respondents say that technology is a focus of their organizational strategy.

That makes sense; most nonprofits exist to fulfill their mission, not to be tech leaders. But in a sector that often faces limited budgets, strained personnel resources and rigorous regulatory pressures, digital transformation may not be seen as a priority. Nonprofit IT leaders are faced with constraints that may force an ad hoc approach that isn’t as comprehensive as they’d like it to be.

Yet a strategic stop-and-go approach can actually support digital transformation and app modernization.

Allyson Fryhoff Headshot
One of the advantages of moving to the cloud is that nonprofits with limited resources don’t have to make large upfront investments in hardware.”

Allyson Fryhoff managing director of nonprofit and nonprofit health at AWS

“One of the advantages of moving to the cloud is that nonprofits with limited resources don’t have to make large upfront investments in hardware or spend time and effort managing that hardware in order to begin their digital transformation,” Allyson Fryhoff, managing director of nonprofit and nonprofit health at AWS, told BizTech in 2023. “Instead, organizations can provision exactly the computing resources they need to power their organizations and keep focus on the mission.”

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Six Remarkable Core Benefits of App Modernization

Before asking the primary questions about app modernization, nonprofit leaders need to understand why the practice is a critical component of their digital transformation journey. The benefits are many, including:

  1. Increased efficiency. As apps evolve, they’re designed to be more efficient — crucial when the average user toggles between apps and websites almost 1,200 times a day. This usability helps staff members direct their brainpower where it’s needed most instead of on frustrating, outdated applications.
  2. Better collaboration. With a dispersed workforce, cloud-based collaboration keeps workflows humming. App modernization can facilitate group discussions and shared tasks in one spot — particularly useful for geographically diverse teams, but also useful as a “single source of truth” for small, in-office teams that need a documentation hub.
  3. Improved security. Nonprofits handle sensitive information — donor data, information on beneficiaries, compliance documents — and app modernization helps them protect that information while improving their overall security posture.
  4. Greater scalability. Moving to cloud-based applications supports agile development that lets nonprofits grow or shrink their app resources as needed. Helpful for any organization, this can be particularly useful for nonprofits, as needs may change dramatically based on grants and other forms of time-limited funding. 
  5. Deeper engagement. Volunteers, staff members, and donors are accustomed to modern, consumer-oriented apps in other areas of their lives. Keeping pace with those to the best of a nonprofit’s ability can help people stay digitally engaged with the organization.
  6. Reduced costs. The upfront cost of modernization applications can pay off in the form of reduced maintenance and improved compatibility, organizational efficiency and more agile development. And the initial investment might not be as overwhelming as expected: Cloud-based apps often operate on a pay-per-use model.

UP NEXT: The solutions and services that can help your nonprofit.

It’s understandable why the AWS survey found that organizations often weren’t considering technology as a core part of their mission: Nonprofits already have a mission, the guiding light that illuminates every aspect of their operations.

But when nonprofits can embrace digital transformation and app modernization as a critical source of light along the way, they’ll be better able to keep their eyes on their end goal of fulfilling that mission and using donor funds in the most strategic way.

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