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How the Not-For-Profit technology landscape is changing

Posted October 17, 2018

In this article, we take a closer look at some of the ways in which the technology landscape for NFPs is changing and more importantly, how to bring your organisation up to speed.

By Rushad Billimoria, Information Systems Manager: Not-for-Profits and Aged Care

You will have noticed the fast swing upwards in technology capability over the past 10 years. Smartphones, cloud, rapid internet expansion, social media and cybersecurity issues have all been at the forefront of the news, and they are only gathering more strength.

As a not-for-profit organisation, this is changing the way that you are expected to operate, too. Today, we take a closer look at some of the ways in which the technology landscape for NFPs is changing – and more importantly, how to bring your organisation up to speed.

Customers and clients expect a technology experience in line with business

How do both your digital footprint and interaction channels stack up against businesses? Against similar NFPs? No matter your mission, if you can’t express your message the way that customers have come to expect, then they’ll go elsewhere.

Bringing your user experience in line with customer expectations involves gathering data about what others are doing and implementing it within your own systems.

This includes elements like:

  • A responsive website that looks good on mobile
  • Easy donation channels
  • A social media presence
  • Regular online updates so the public know what you’re doing
  • Multiple contact channels

Cloud is king

One of the most challenging aspects in terms of technology in the NFP landscape has always been technology governance; how to create systems, users, data collections, and tech resources that are available to staff and volunteers when they need it.

With cloud technology, this problem has been solved. Have you rolled over your systems to the cloud yet, to take advantage of everything it has to offer? You might have already implemented some cloud solutions. You might have an organisation-wide DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive file system for people to access. You may already use a cloud productivity suite such as GSuite or O365.

However, arguably one of the most useful cloud tools is identity and access management. Using cloud access management tools like Azure Active Directory can help keep cloud data and systems management secure and safe, no matter how big or small your organisation.

Leveraging data to drive your NFP further

What are you doing with your data? And how have your data collection methods changed? As an NFP, you’ll have a mine of data you’ve already accumulated across the years. This will include your donation customer database, as well as volunteers, and possible other leads.

However, the way that we can collect, manage, and analyse data has changed. While you may have Excel spreadsheets or even a CRM, are you using the data that you have to your best advantage?

There are plenty of tools that can help you get a start with transforming and analysing your data, such as Microsoft Power BI or Qlikview. Pick well-known tools with plenty of training available that are within your budget or offer discounts to NFPs.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

One of the issues facing many NFPs is ageing IT devices and infrastructure. A new fleet of desktops and laptops come with a significant price tag which can be a strain on budgets.

However, many people already have their own devices which can be used for work purposes; smartphones, tablets, and laptops. You may already have an ad-hoc Bring Your Own Device system in place, maybe routing emails to people’s phones. However, by implementing a strong BYOD policy and system, you can be sure that you are able to manage data flow (both in and out) to people’s own personal devices.

Products like Microsoft Intune have been specifically developed to help organisations manage BYOD in the workplace. By developing a policy and utilising tools that already exist for management, you can both save on the cost of hardware, as well as make sure that your IT systems are still secure.

On the topic of security

Managing IT organisational security is more important than ever. Ransomware, such as last year’s WannaCry attack, can be even more crippling to budget-conscious NFPs than it is too big business. If your systems and data are held hostage for ransom, where do the funds to pay the ransom come from? And, what if your mission-critical systems and data aren’t released after paying the ransom?

Ransomware is just one of the security issues facing NFPs. You should be considering intrusion detection systems, access controls, vulnerabilities on your website, and more.
Having a security check-up is a good way to start your journey towards secure IT infrastructure. While there are tools available to help do this, it’s often better to seek a professional assessment, which can help make recommendations to strengthen security across your organisation and systems.

Need a helping hand?

At Bremmar, it’s one of our missions to help the not for profit sector bring technology, infrastructure, and policy in line with current standards and help strengthen systems so they’re future-proof and secure. If you’d like a helping hand with your IT in any of these areas, make sure to reach out!

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By Rushad Billimoria, Information Systems Manager: Not-for-Profits and Aged Care

As a Client Information Systems Manager, I’m the go-to person for Bremmar’s NFP and Aged Care customers.  I help charities, non-profit and Aged Care partners of all sizes transform their digital capabilities and modernise their workplaces, using a targeted and industry-specific approach.

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