It would be nice to have a fairy godmother who could wave her magic wand and provide your nonprofit with all the technology bells, whistles, sparkles and licenses it needs to be up-to-date. The reality is, however, that each nonprofit must find a way to find its tech upgrades on its own. That comes with challenges.
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There are solutions for nonprofit organizations who need to update their technology, but no solution is a perfect fit for every organization. You’ll need to examine the solutions, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with the technology plan that’s right for your group.
Consider All Costs
“Technology” is an umbrella term that encompasses hardware, software, and connectivity. It may also include various devices used by your employees such as laptops, cell phones, tablets and more.
Before looking for technology resources, develop a list that includes all of your organization’s technology needs. Start by listing the employees, their jobs, and the resources each person needs to successfully complete their job.
Costs may include:
- Desktop units
- Mouse and keyboard
- Business productivity software such as spreadsheets, word processing, presentation software, etc.
- Cloud storage or networking
- Graphic design software
- Human resources software
- CRM or donor relationship management software
- Grant tracking software
- Accounting and financial software
- Modem or internet connectivity
- Copiers, scanners, fax machines, printers, etc.
Some of these items may be available for little or no cost. Google Documents, for example, provides cloud-based word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software that may be fine for your basic business needs. Small or startup nonprofits have different needs than a 100-person nonprofit operating in several states or countries.
Keep in mind that licenses for software may be based on how many users are on the system, so as your nonprofit grows, you may need to add extra licenses. You should include these costs into your estimates.
Office equipment today combines printing, scanners, fax machines and copiers all in one small unit. Such a unit may suffice for your office needs in the short-term and can be purchased new for a modest fee.
Nearly New or Brand New?
Nonprofits may find that they can benefit from local corporations who wish to donate their computer equipment to the organization. Before accepting such equipment, ascertain whether the donated equipment is compatible with licenses and software that you currently own. Otherwise, you may spend considerable time and effort finding ways to adapt software to equipment.
Before accepting used equipment, feel free to stipulate to the company donating it that you’d like to look at it first. You don’t want a truck pulling up at your doorstep filled with circa 1990 monitors; they’re only good for doorstops at this point in time. Examine the equipment and if it doesn’t meet your needs, pass on it.
New equipment can be purchased at a discount online. TechSoup offers discounted equipment and many bargains . Even traditional retailers and office supply stores provide coupons, discounts and sales. End of year and back to school times are great opportunities to take advantage of these sales.
Big Projects? Think Sponsorships
Lastly, consider asking your best donors to sponsor large-scale tech projects. Consider a capital campaign with specific donation amounts suggested in the campaign and linking those amounts to what the donation will purchase.
“Your donation of $100 will buy a new copier for our office” ,for example, allows the potential donor to visualize how they help your organization. This is a time-tested way of encouraging donations for specific campaigns.
Nonprofits need technology. Paying for it or finding the funds for it may be challenging, but there are many creative ways to help you harness the power of technology for your benefit with a little thought, care and planning.
Welter Consulting, Your Bridge to Solutions
Navigating the many options available to you for technology resources can be tricky. There’s always something else tugging at you for attention. Where do you start? How do you decide?
Welter Consulting offers a bridge to solutions that work for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.