Nonprofits don’t always make the right investment in their technology. Sometimes, trying to save money, they use “free” software, not realizing it’s actually costing them a lot in terms of staff time. Other times, they are willing to spend money, but budget and time constraints leave them with few technology options, none of which truly fits their needs. These organizations are not using their technology strategically, and that can hinder their mission.

Could your nonprofit do a better job of integrating technology into its overall strategy? Here are a few warning signs:

  1. The executive director keeps talking about “bringing the organization into the 21st century” even though it’s 2017 and that should’ve happened a while ago.
  2. This year you’ve received donations from 100 people, but it takes 200 spreadsheets to keep track of them all.
  3. And you can only access 150 of those spreadsheets because your coworker keeps the rest on their computer but they are out of town for the week so I guess you’ll just have to wait until they get back to find out which donors attended the fundraising event for which you need to send thank-you notes.
  4. Your free trial of [x] is about to expire and nobody has made a plan for what’s next.
  5. You spend more time doing manual data entry than working with the people your nonprofit exists to serve.
  6. Your nonprofit went with the cheapest option because it seemed “good enough for now.” They’ll focus on finding the right technology later.
  7. There’s no real training in place, so new employees have to figure out the organization’s technology on their own.
  8. You and all your coworkers hate using your nonprofit’s technology.
  9. It seems like you have to adapt your work to fit the available technology instead of getting technology that fits the work you need to do.
  10. You’ve heard that other nonprofits have CRMs to keep all of their donor and client information in one place, and that sounds like something that would make your life easier.
  11. Your coworker is back from vacation! But it turns out they accidentally deleted a bunch of information from that important spreadsheet and because it wasn’t hosted in the cloud, that information is lost forever.

Nonprofits with the most successful technology solutions have full board and staff buy-in, ongoing training, and a centralized location for all their data. Doesn’t sound like your nonprofit? Don’t worry! You can start connecting your information silos by reading Why Your Organization Needs Data Documentation and filling out the included Data Inventory Sheet (PDF) to make sure everyone who uses your nonprofit’s data can find it when they need it.

When you’re ready to take a deeper dive, take a look at the Technology as Strategy Guide. It includes a Readiness Quiz, a Needs Assessment, and more to get you started on the road to using your nonprofit technology strategically.

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