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What Every Nonprofit Needs to Know About Technology

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John Kenyon

Who is John? 15 years helping non-profits, ex CompuMentor; wrote eNonprofit guide; worked in; teaches Masters of Non-profit course in USF

Show of hands

  • Orgs with 30+ people 10%
  • 10-30 people 50%
  • 1-10 people 40%
  • How many have a technology plan – 1 maybe 4
  • 90%+ don’t have a plan

What technology should I use? = What house should I buy? Key question : What do you need?

Nonprofits & technology

Appropriate technology, how to get. Involves:

  • Systems analysis – what is my context, my competition, how do they serve
  • Planning – you get what you plan for
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Databases
  • The internet
  • Online services
  • The future
  • Keep coming back to what you need
  • Don’t ask the vendors

Work systems framework

  • Elements / Principles
  • Customers - know what the customers need / Please the customer
  • Products & services / ditto
  • Business process – to produce p&s / Perform the work efficiently – if your inefficient, technology will just speed up your inefficiency
  • Participants / Serve the participants
  • Information / Create value from information
  • Technology – call the vendor’s customer service, see how long it takes to to get served / minimize effort consumed by technology
  • Infrastructure – other things like phones, structure etc / deploy infrastructure as a genuine resource
  • Context – who’s your competition – spend 20-30 hours researching who do, how do, what tech they use, history

Balance results, people, process

  • Users and audiences
  • Board
  • Staff
  • Major donors
  • Members
  • Prospects

Systems & Planning

  • Roles – identify team – cio function, org perspective; consultant function – outside tech expert; org stakeholder – process/people perspective; end-user perspective

Key elements of a plan

  • Organization profile
  • Technology vision statement
  • Project – description, benefits, tasks, costs
  • Budget
  • Timeline/critical path

Key steps in planning

  • Assess current tech & organization readiness
  • Create the team, consider consulting support
  • State the vision, develop criteria, set goals
  • Create components of the plan
  • Establish priorities
  • Share/explain the plan, get feedback
  • Make decision, develop budget & timeline
  • Implement the plan, train staff
  • Evaluate: technology, implementation, process, planning
  • Revise plan based on evaluation

Security & Privacy

  • Data security
  • Backups
  • Restores
  • Privacy policies (see’s)

10 Nonprofit Tech Commandments

  • After people, data is your most important resource
  • Your results depend on your investment in data (staff time, planning, training, resources, allocated)
  • Define and know your data needs and uses
  • Seek out data and keep it flowing
  • Define your needs in detail before tool selection. Have tools? Regularly review new tools
  • Honestly look at your information systems (human, data, and communication elements)
  • Maintain commitment of board and staff to technology
  • Have an ongoing conversation about data
  • Keep in touch with other organizations
  • Knowledge eases fear, stay in the know

70/30 rule – support & maintenance account for 70% of your tech cost


  • Business processes are the key
  • Appropriate technology : need, culture, resources
  • Measure twice, cut once
  • Learn about the enonprofit & webification of stakeholders
  • Technology can transform organizations




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