The world of technology has become increasingly complex, and nonprofits are often faced with the challenge of adopting new technologies without breaking the bank. However, a well-planned technology strategy can help you keep up with your competition and maximize the efficiency of your organization's operations.
In this article, we'll walk through each step required to develop a solid technology plan for your nonprofit - from setting goals to finding staff who can implement them successfully.
I. Set your technology goals.
Write down a list of what you want to accomplish when it comes to your organization’s technology tools and processes in the next three to six months. For example, if your nonprofit is looking for a new website, write that down as one of the high points on your list (assuming it's a realistic goal). If you feel like your current website doesn't give visitors enough information or isn't mobile-friendly enough, make that another item on the list!
II. Develop a plan.
You may be wondering, “What is a technology plan?” or “Why do we need one?” The short answer is that it's critical for your organization to have a clear vision of its desired technological outcomes, as well as an actionable roadmap for achieving those outcomes.
This can be tricky if you're new to the nonprofit world, but don't worry—we've got you covered! A technology plan will help ensure that your mission-critical systems are reliable and secure, and that they meet both current needs and future growth needs. It will also help ensure proper funding from both internal sources (such as staff salaries) and external sources (such as grants).
III. Build in flexibility to grow and change as needed.
Be flexible in your approach. This is the most important thing to remember when developing a technology plan for your nonprofit. You need a strategy that will allow you to grow and change as needed—and be open to change as often as possible.
Don't be afraid to try new things. If there's something out there that might benefit your organization, give it a shot! Your team might come up with some new ideas or approaches that are even better than what you initially had in mind—or they could point out flaws in the original idea, which could help improve it further before implementation begins.
Don't let your plan become stale or outdated too quickly after implementation begins; this can result in wasted resources on both ends of development (e.g., time spent creating content).
IV. Identify the right technologies to help you meet your business and financial goals.
Once you've defined your business and financial goals, it's time to identify the right technologies that will help you meet them. When deciding which technologies to invest in, consider their value as well as their compatibility with other systems and processes at your organization. For example, if you want more donors and volunteers but don't have a robust fundraising system in place yet, having a mobile app on hand could be very useful for raising awareness about your cause by reaching out to potential supporters where they are.
At the same time, though some legacy systems may not be compatible with newer technology or vice versa—for example, an older database might not be compatible with new software—it's important to understand how much investment each option requires before making decisions about which ones are best suited for your nonprofit.
V. Determine the right mix of outsourcing, in-house staff, consultants and volunteers to implement your plan.
You may be tempted to outsource some of your technology needs, but this can be expensive. It's also not a guarantee that you'll get the best results. For example, if you hire an outside consultant to build a website for your organization, they may not have the same sense of ownership that in-house staff would have.
Volunteers are another option—they're free and will probably do a great job—but they may not always be reliable when it comes time to complete tasks or meet deadlines. Volunteers' availability can also change from one week to the next, which makes it hard on both them (if they're given too much work) and on you (if there aren't enough volunteers).
In-house staff is more reliable than outsourcing but also more expensive; however, this is often necessary because nonprofits receive funding based on how many employees they have working in their organizations each year and what kind of budget those employees need support with in order to fulfill their mission goals effectively without overspending or underutilizing resources (which could result in negative consequences such as decreased income due fewer donations).
VI. Create a roadmap for implementing your plan, keeping costs down and ensuring that you have the resources you need on hand when you need them.
Once you've determined the best technology solutions for your organization, it's time to take the next step and implement them. The first thing you need to do is create a plan that outlines how you'll move forward with putting your technology roadmap into action.
A roadmap lays out all the steps needed to achieve a certain goal, so it makes sense that it should be used when implementing an IT strategy for your nonprofit as well. An effective roadmap will identify resources (people and money) required for each stage of getting from where you are now to where you want to be in terms of implementing new systems; this includes ensuring that those resources are available when they're needed.
Once this part is done, all that remains is creating an actionable timeline based on priority tasks; this way, everyone involved knows what needs to be done while also keeping costs down by using only tools necessary for each stage of implementation.
There’s no doubt about it: technology can be complicated. But it also offers countless opportunities to help your nonprofit thrive, so it’s worth learning how to navigate the waters. By setting clear goals and building in flexibility, you can develop a plan that will keep your organization running smoothly for years to come.
Through finding the right mix of tools and staff members, you can create a roadmap that makes implementing that plan as painless as possible (and hopefully even fun!). If you need some help developing or implementing your nonprofit’s technology plan, reach out to our team of experts at Camber Creative today to get started!
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