Do you need a laptop, notebook or tablet? That was the question Sid asked when helping me sort out what kind of computer replacement I needed for my work. Gone are the days when all I needed was a Big Chief tablet, freshly sharpened #2 pencils and a three-ring binder…no technology there.
My answers relied on my understanding of how I use my computer, what bells and whistles I needed, and which ones I’d like to try out. Weight, speed and how fast it can be up and running mattered the most.
The answers are critical. What I purchase will impact every working day and some days when I’m not working.
Nonprofit organizations you care about-face their version of similar questions after the disastrous impact of 2020 on services and their infrastructure. Why does any of this matter to donors? Why do we need to understand what nonprofit organizations are dealing with now? The simple, one-word answer is change.
What’s on the Nonprofit Agenda Today?
Savvy nonprofit executives and board members are now sorting through many potential changes for services, staffing, equipment, software, and more.
Some changes may be inexpensive and straightforward. But many of the changes they face will be costly. Nonprofit organizations often raise just enough money to balance the budget every year. They will be hard-pressed to fund needed changes.
Here’s What You Need to Know
Equipment, processes, and physical locations need technical upgrades just like any other business. Nonprofits typically put them off as long as possible to avoid the cost.
Computers without cameras are no longer acceptable. Maintaining old computers to avoid the cost of up-to-date models is no longer an option as telehealth, teleservices, zoom meetings, and conferencing become how services are delivered, organizations are managed, and learning occurs.
Communication will rely on video technology.
Digital and data technology investments are a must. No longer can organizations limp along without good data on which to base decisions.
Onboard software and cloud-based applications are now essential tools, not extras.
Social media and online engagement will grow as nonprofit organizations aim to engage donors in more ways. Fundraisers have already moved online. Much of the online style of fundraising is here to stay.
Look for more stories about clients and services as a way of helping donors better understand the scope of work.
Giving Days, managed by third-party funders like East Texas Communities Foundation and others, are now a must-do for every nonprofit.
From Survival to Lasting Change
Most nonprofits redesigned service delivery during the pandemic, testing new delivery methods.
Nonprofits got smarter. Being smarter comes with a price tag. New and different rarely costs less.
People Costs or Investment in the Right Skillsets
The cost of staff and use of volunteers changed during 2020. Nonprofits need new skillsets to work well in the digital age. Board members need to understand the ramifications of it all and recruit members with different skills to plan for the organizations’ future.
Where We Can Help
First, we can continue giving. Second, trust them to figure out how to best serve in our changing world.
Most importantly, they need us to increase our risk tolerance. Few donors are comfortable with high levels of risk. We prefer effective, efficient organizations that use every penny they can to serve those in need. Few of us like to give to infrastructure, capacity and organizational development. But this is the reality for them and us.
When we imagine innovation, our favorite nonprofit doesn’t often come to mind. Nonprofits changed last year to survive. 2021 will be the year of innovation for many. This year they invest in change for keeps.
There is no way around this moment. Nonprofits need our support to fund necessary changes. A decade from now, nonprofit experts will look back on 2020 as the year nonprofits sped into the world of what’s next faster than ever before, like a bullet train. Their train isn’t leaving the station without us.
Let’s get on board for the ride. What changes do you foresee for nonprofit organizations?
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Dawn, you hit the nail on the head! The only thing that has been constant over the past year has been change. At ETFB we have had to completely restructure our methods of distribution and how we provide our services. We have begun to revisit our 3-year strategic plan (FY20-FY22) to include new iniatives that will accommodate the increase of services needed in our 26-county service area. And yes, the necessity of the Virtual World has had its challenges…new software, conducting virtual board meetings and developing best practices for doing so. The most difficult challenge for those of us in the fundraising field has been the loss of opportunities to meet face-to-face with our beloved donors and prospects. In spite of this…the outpouring of support from our communities in the midst of these difficulties, has been so kind. Feeding the hungry is a noble and compassionate thing to do and we are so grateful for the foundations, corporations, and individual donors that give what they can to help us during this time. We continue to look into the face of hunger when we speak with families in line at our mass distributions. Many are families who have never needed assistance before, making it very difficult for them to come. We hear comments about how they have not eaten in days…or the elderly that take turns eating…”you eat today and I’ll eat tomorrow.” We have established Mobile Pantry areas that are considered “food deserts” because there little access to sources of food in rural areas. In all that we do, treating everyone with kindness, dignity and compassion is our goal. Our mission is deeply engrained in all that we do… we truly are Fighting Hunger and Feeding Hope. I am so blessed to work in this profession.