“State budgets were a mess in FY2009, a debacle in FY2010, and look like impending catastrophes in FY2011,” states The Nonprofit Quarterly in a recent blog post.

It’s hard to gauge what, exactly, the impact on state funding and nonprofits will be, but in the common sense approach of “preparing for the worst while hoping for the best,” here are 7 ways to strengthen your organization through the use of technology.

  1. Make a change before disaster strikes. While there is cost associated with licensing new software solutions, it is considerably less costly and traumatic to the organization than having antiquated, unsupported systems crash. Don’t risk the loss of precious data (donor and financial) that the organization has spent years collecting. Avoid disaster by proactively taking steps to replace your static, outdated system before it breaks.
  2. Invest in technology that will increase your competitiveness for new grants and funding. Increased constituent need for support and services in the midst of limited funding and potential budget cuts means unprecedented competition for funding. The ability to access, organize, report and present required data quickly will be the margin of success in many cases – the race will not be won by organizations hamstrung by clunky, outdated systems where inordinate amounts of time must be spent extracting, compiling and manually reporting the data.
  3. Seek agility and efficiencies in your ability to manage the re-proposal of grants. Having the right nonprofit accounting system means you have access to the history and reporting necessary to quickly and thoroughly respond to the requirements of the grant. You will free up considerable time in preparing for grants that are up for re-proposal since you can easily identify, capture and refine information that you need. The right system can help you better manage all the steps in pre-award process as it can be built into the system.
  4. Insist on appropriate technology investments to make your organization accountable to mission and constituents. Eliminate the time and money wasted on duplicate data entry, correcting errors associated with manual processes, and the inability to make strategic and meaningful decisions due to stale or inaccurate information.
  5. Look to tip the scales from reactive to proactive decision making. Building off of the last point, the entire organization and individual team members will benefit from moving from a reactive approach to decision making to a proactive approach. Arming the team with critical data to quickly correct, or better, prevent problems before they happen, will make for a more energized and effective organization.
  6. Increase the proficiency and morale of the team by investing in adequate training. Far too often, nonprofit organizations put an unnecessary burden on staff by not adequately investing in the training that will make team members proficient on new systems. Instead of being a time-saver and escalating the efficiency and value of their work, lack of training serves to frustrate those who must use the system on a daily basis and postpone (at best) or cancel (at worst) the benefits of having a powerful system. Making an investment in adequate training mean your team is more proficient and confident in their use of the system. Not only does this result in better overall organizational performance, it goes a long way in boosting morale – which is crucial for employee retention and a great gift to give your team.
  7. Look to strengthen relationship with donors through more timely, personalized, strategic and timely communication with donors. Fundraising is never easy. Now, faced with an uncertain economy, donors have hard choices to make. Never has maintaining a strong relationship with donors been more important. The degree to which your donor database can assist you in staying on top of gift recognition, event invitations, and other donor updates will maintain and strengthen the relationships you’ve been building over the years. Your donor database should also help you leverage social media and networking to attract new donors and keep your mission top of mind with all audiences.

Selecting and optimizing the right technology is one of the most crucial decisions your organization can make. We help nonprofits with this investment from the selection process through the implementation of the system and the training of the staff. We understand that all nonprofits are unique in their mission, staffing, services – and we look at a variety of systems in order to find the best match for needs of your organization. We welcome the opportunity to help you begin putting technology to work for your organization to ensure that your good work will benefit the community for years to come.