Leaders of non-profit organizations are often surprised to learn that modern, well-designed IT systems can be obtained within their budgets. Good technology can also inspire confidence in trustees and donors alike, and ultimately help push the mission of the organization forward.
Kraft Kennedy has come to this conclusion from guiding many legal services, healthcare, granting, advocacy, fine arts, pro bono departments, and other non-profit groups. We’ve found, sadly, that many such entities expect too little from their systems or simply aren’t aware of what is possible. Lawyers also frequently serve non-profits and direct questions to their firm’s IT leaders, who want to be helpful.
Non-profit organizations and departments can indeed benefit from the same high-quality IT that the for-profit companies rely on. To do so, they must set their expectations higher and ask for the right help navigating the array of available options.
Excellent IT can be acquired cost-effectively, and there are ways for IT leaders to help. Here are some of the best strategies we’ve found:
Develop a technology plan
Develop an executive-level plan that defines goals and provides sufficient guidance for execution. It may sound simple, but often organizations struggling with technology are missing this crucial foundation. It sets proper expectations and establishes the necessary channels for communication between leadership and IT.
Outsourcing capital-intensive services like email, data storage, phone systems, grant and financial management can be a great way to reduce complexity and overhead costs while taking advantage of sleek modern tech. Similarly, having a contract for basic system monitoring, security, management and support with a “Managed Service Provider” can ensure that operations and data are protected while reducing the workload of IT and non-IT staff.
Reduce complexity of infrastructure
Along the same lines, non-profits often stand to benefit from simplifying their infrastructure, such as removing servers or moving certain systems to the cloud for easier management.
Consider Microsoft Office 365 Non-Profit Plans
Microsoft’s non-profit plans are a great resource, providing a broad array of data-hosting services and software licenses, including Microsoft Office. In particular, Office 365 for non-profits provides a comprehensive set of services at an incredibly low price. Equally important, IT leaders can trust that their organization’s mission is being furthered without threat of disruption from IT systems.
Lease capital purchases
Leasing turnkey equipment can provide a predictable yearly budget.
Acquire software licenses through TechSoup
TechSoup, is a non-profit distributor that helps decision makers navigate through corporate giving programs. They can provide software and equipment at prices 10%-50% of retail.
Train via webinars and publicly available resources
There is a trove of free training available online for IT teams and users alike to help your organization make the most of its systems. Training is an often neglected but vital aspect of IT programs. Simply holding a monthly session for staff to watch several online videos and more importantly to swap notes can be very beneficial. Many law firms have professional trainers who stop by for an hour once a month.
Kraft Kennedy is committed to the needs of our customers – large or small – and takes their personal concerns seriously. We welcome the opportunity to help organizations with cost-effective technology planning. We do it regularly.