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How to tailor your IT needs as an NFP

Posted September 13, 2018
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As an NFP you have unique needs for your IT digital transformation. But there are not many people talking about it! We cover some key areas to address those needs in this post.

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

Digital transformation. Your business needs it. That’s what the internet keeps saying, right? TED talks, those posts from your network on LinkedIn… But there’s always something missing in this conversation.

Are non-profits being excluded from this conversation?

Non-profits sometimes let it slip through the cracks when it comes to the digital transformation conversation. As an NFP, you have certain unique qualities that don’t exist in the sense of the traditional business. And what this means is that your IT needs will be slightly different from the average business.

So, today we’re taking a look at a few key IT areas with innately unique qualities in an NFP. We’ll take a look at the underlying issues and suggest some solutions that can help make your organisation more modernized, efficient, effective, attractive, and streamlined.

Strategy & Governance

A complete strategy, outlining your vision and plan for IT for your NFP is essential to get started with embracing a digital-first mantra. This strategy document can’t just sit in the corner gathering dust, though. You need someone in charge of IT governance.

IT governance will ensure plans and processes are being followed, measuring and reporting on new implementations and their success, dissecting roadblocks or issues as they arise, updating strategy when there are better solutions available or missions/campaigns change, and monitoring user engagement.

NFPs are unique in that while their overall mission rarely changes, campaign strategies are often constantly evolving, which requires thinking about the IT necessary to support this.

While IT governance doesn’t have to be a full-time position, it does require a person already skilled in the area. If you don’t have someone on staff with these qualifications, then you can either hire or choose an outsourcing partner to help along the way or even provide specialised NFP IT governance training.

Collaboration & User Management

As an NFP, the way your organisation works with human resources may be much more complex than a regular business. In organisations, there may be too few employees. You may rely on volunteers, which can be a volatile resource, as they move on to other activities or paid employment.

Depending on your organisation, work may be done by many different types of people across a wide variety of metro/regional locations and devices! On top of that, partnership between NFPs is the new trend and there’s a big push from the Australian Government for NFPs to work together. In some cases, an NFP can’t tender for a contract or apply for Funding Grants unless they have a partner.

This makes collaboration and user management an extremely important element of your IT infrastructure. You cannot rely on emailing people across the day. Send, wait for response, forget something, attach something… it’s no wonder 2.5 hours a day are wasted on emails.

There are various all in one communication and file sharing solutions that are available across any device at all times. Slack, Trello and Microsoft Teams are a few of the solutions available solution enabling streamlined and efficient communication anywhere.

User management is similarly as important. This is what employees have access to which files, apps, and other organisational digital resources. When onboarding a person, you may set up one configuration for someone who gets to be an administrator, one for a regular employee, one for a volunteer, etc. Similarly, removing access when someone moves on is important. Solutions like Microsoft’s Azure Identity and Access Management solve this problem.

Leveraging the Power of Data & Integration in Your Systems

What are your current systems for purchasing? Organising meetings? Financials? Employee productivity? Invoicing? Tax? Asset management? Case management? There are plenty of NFPs and businesses that are still dealing with legacy solutions like an old version of QuickBooks, or even just handmade spreadsheets in Excel 2003.

It’s time to get with the times. Apps these days not only do the task they’re designed for, they can create complex reports, help gather data to make predictions, suggest tweaks to your operations, give alerts, and can hook into other systems to share data. For example, Power BI is included in some Office 365 suites, which can help integrate apps and display useful information as per your requirements. No more entering things twice!

Of course, the choice of apps available is endless. You will first need to look at The business outcomes you want to achieve and then work on a strategy and plan to introduce these apps to the business. Staff adoption will most likely be your biggest challenge so, instead of introducing the latest flashy app to your staff, work on your IT strategy to ensure your product of choice integrates with other apps, will serve the business in the long run, will provide all the features you need, etc.

You might also like to take a look at Connecting Up, a program that offers NFPs discounts and donations on tech products from companies like Cisco, Microsoft and Adobe.

Modernisation of Outreach

You’ve probably already been thinking about this element of your IT, implementing some of these modern practices to help grow your NFP and expand your outreach. Some digital solutions that can help with outreach, garnering interest, and eliciting donations include:

  • Adding a donation button to your homepage, or to your Facebook page
  • Starting a petition on Change.org
  • Having an email newsletter, managed easily by MailChimp
  • Easy graphic design for your digital/paper communications with Canva
  • Social media management with Hootsuite
  • Creating surveys with Typeform
  • Have a CRM to securely manage Donors information with Dynamics CRM

Of course, this is just a taster of what’s out there – but all these tools have a great reputation for a reason.

At Bremmar, we are specialists in helping NFP organisations like yours align your IT needs to your mission. We can help assess your current progression across digital transformation and then tailor strategies and solutions that will enable you to further your cause more efficiently and effectively.

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

As 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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