Entries Tagged 'Perspective' ↓

Nonprofits & Information Technology

When you bring your car to the garage, do you ask the mechanic if they have the right tools for the job? Probably not. But, would you trust a mechanic that insists on replacing the brakes on your car with just a screwdriver? Again, probably not. Now, what if you went to a bank that had no computers? Would you feel confident that they can keep track of every single transaction that they’re responsible for?

The right tool for the right job is important. The right software for the right job is especially important. However, not all organizations have a framework for choosing the appropriate software solutions for their purposes. This is especially true of the nonprofit sector. In a 2014 survey, 40% of nonprofit respondents reported experiencing information technology issues that were affecting their service. and administrative efforts (Mintz, n.d.). The same survey revealed that 22% of the participants had no information technology budget. Perhaps this can be attributed to the perennial issue facing nonprofits: lack of resources (Hrabik, 2013). However, This is a huge problem given that technology is constantly pushing forward and, for as many problems as it solves, it sometimes presents entirely new ones.

One key issue facing nonprofits is the use of weak passwords (Goldstein, n.d.). This problem is one that has many available tech solutions. Admittedly, this issue is not likely to be resolved simply by having access to certain technologies. Policy must also be used to influence employee behavior within the organization.

As an example: what happens when policy dictates that more complex passwords be used? Let’s assume that an employee complies with the policy and then selects a password they cannot remember. Is there a helpdesk they can call to reset said password? Depending on the size of the organization there may not be a dedicated resource to manage these situations. Rather than relying on employees to designate passwords for mission critical applications, it may be better to rely on a password management service such as LastPass. For organizations with 100 employees or less, it costs $24/user per year. While this service runs in the cloud and, by extension, may be met with a certain level of distrust, it’s important to understand that moving to the cloud in this and other areas could reduce operational costs by 20% (Goldstein, n.d.).

(As an aside, if you’re looking to increase your password strength for LastPass does offer a free password generator here.)

Software and tech isn’t a sexy topic in the nonprofit world but neither is being dead in the water because operations have come to a standstill due to lack of appropriate tech resources and poor security. Mechanics invest in the right tools because it helps them do their job safely and efficiently. Banks invest in the right software to keep their operations running smoothly. Nonprofits need to make important considerations about where to invest their time and financial resources. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Investing up front can save headaches further on down the road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Goldstein, P. (n.d.). The Top Technology Trends Confronting Nonprofits in 2016 [#Infographic]. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.biztechmagazine.com/article/2016/01/nonprofits-are-confronting-security-challenges-mobile-and-cloud-adoption-2016

Hrabik, L. (2013, June 18). 3 of the Biggest Struggles for Nonprofits (and How to Overcome). Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://nonprofithub.org/fundraising/3-of-the-biggest-struggles-for-nonprofits-and-how-to-overcome/

Mintz, E. (n.d.). The Nonprofit Technology Paradox. Retrieved from http://fccfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014-FCCF-Nonprofit-Technology-Paradox-report-2014.pdf