Use technology to boost impact

Lauren Jeong Community 0 Comments

Time after time, we see how nonprofits are able to use technology upgrades to increase program efficiency and community reach, ultimately improving program quality and outcomes. Here are a few nonprofits using technology to propel their mission and increase capacity:

  • Dad’s Garage implemented a new CRM that gave the improv theatre new capabilities, including the ability to launch a new birthday club program that has helped bring in new audience members.
  • Callanwolde Fine Arts Center invested in a new video security system that is saving the organization thousands of dollars annually over its previous security system. A new online class registration system was also launched, which has contributed to increased class enrollment.
  • Open Hand overhauled its website and implemented a new meal ordering system and distribution app, resulting in $100,000 in annual savings and improved client communication.

We have also seen how similar investments have helped us improve our work, such as implementing our nonprofit online portal in 2016 to allow for better data collection and information sharing among Foundation staff.

Small and large investments alike can make a monumental difference in improving processing times, work quality and sometimes staff sanity. Yet with limited resources, general operating dollars and special fundraising campaigns often focus on other organizational priorities. On average, nonprofits spend $3,194.68 per employee on technology while for-profits spend $11,580 to $13,100 per employee on IT.

In some cases it’s difficult to calculate the return on investment to justify spending additional funds on technology upgrades, whether its estimating staff time spent on certain tasks or quantifying how it might help staff well-being and morale to transition a menial task to an automated system. In other cases, there is a lack of expertise or understanding of where to start.

While the Foundation has decided to move away from supporting technology projects through our Nonprofit Toolbox grant program because it is not our core area of expertise, we are thrilled to partner with organizations like TechBridge and Catchafire to provide this much-needed technology expertise and support. In 2019, we are supporting TechBridge’s Dream Big Grant and continuing our partnership with Catchafire to connect nonprofits with skilled volunteers. TechBridge is our local expert in the nonprofit technology space and its Dream Big Award provides technology and consulting services through a competitive grant process. And for those wondering how to measure the impact and ROI of technology projects, TechBridge has a great answer here.