Why non-profits are creating technology plans

Technology plans are vital for nonprofits

The old days, when non-profits waited until their outdated technology held them back before upgrading it, are over. And upgrades aren’t enough. Mission-focused non-profits are embracing sustainable technology plans that ready them, and their budgets, for the future. A chat with experts familiar with non-profit challenges is highly advised. Here’s an overview and some key considerations.

WHAT’S A TECHNOLOGY PLAN?

It’s a specific type of business plan that encompasses the principles, objectives, and tactics for using technology to reach your organization’s goals. Ideally, it details how your technology and IT infrastructure will support your organizational strategies today and in the future. Usually, it observes a three to five-year span. It should be reviewed periodically and evolve as the organization’s shape and objectives change. In larger organizations, a role like that of Chief Information Officer (CIO) typically oversees this but, in smaller organizations, outside expertise may be needed.

WHY DO YOU NEED A TECHNOLOGY PLAN?

  • Whether it’s event management, donor management, fundraising or accounting, you need computers, servers, digital platforms, databases, software and more to complete your work and realize your organization’s vision
  • Your technology plan serves as a blueprint that illustrates how your organization’s technology fits together. It documents the ways your technology will support your mission and enable you to achieve your goals in the future
  • It helps you define exactly what tools you need and how you’ll use them. It also helps identify gaps that could hamper your efforts
  • Technology is a budget expense that can be extra-challenging for the non-profit sector, and requires planning in advance
  • It is a vital strategy tool for using your existing technology in smarter ways
  • It’s a roadmap or schedule for making planned upgrades and new purchases
  • It provides a contingency plan for unexpected tech emergencies or failures

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER

An IT service provider with non-profit experience can help you plan and budget for future upgrades. Here are some questions that will need to be answered:

  • What are your exact goals? Can you name what your technology will help accomplish?
  • Who are your team members that will help develop the plan? Are staff and board members who will be impacted by your changes, use your computer infrastructure, being consulted?
  • Have you fully assessed all your IT and its current expected lifespan? If you don’t have senior-level IT expertise on board, this is a good point at which to seek a consultant 
  • Have you completely considered your strategic goals that may be well down the road yet?
  • What is your budget?
  • What timeline do you need to maintain to be ready for future initiatives?
  • Have you factored in staff training and internet security?
  • What is your total cost of ownership for servers, hardware, IT labour, etc.?

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO ACCESS GRANTS TO HELP YOUR TECHNOLOGY JOURNEY

Grants and funding assistance for technology needs do exist. If you’re seeking outside IT help, look for a company that specializes in working with non-profits and charities—they can often point you in the right direction.

A good place to check is Canada GrantWatch, here: Technology Grants in Canada – GrantWatch

If you are in the Calgary, Alberta general area, the Calgary Foundation is a must-inquire as well: Grants, Awards & Loans | Calgary Foundation

The Government of the Province of Alberta makes grant info available here: Grants for non-profits | Alberta.ca

OTHER RESOURCES

TechSoup Canada is always a good start: TechSoup Canada | Save money on tech. Invest in your mission

IT World Canada is an excellent info-source for non-profits. With your IT plan in place, you’ll be ready for a more proactive digital strategy. This article provides a good overview: How to make your non-profit more innovative | IT World Canada Blog

Talk to someone about your own technology planning today.

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