Posted September 9, 2022
Welcome to Tech Corner
This recent pandemic has served as a catalyst for significant changes in our everyday life. For those of us who try to keep up with technology, we’ve seen tremendous shifts in how organizations are leveraging media, telecommunications tools, and various means of data collection and storage. The purpose of this part of our newsletter is to share some insight into the technology trends we’re seeing and how you and your affiliate can better leverage your technological resources to better serve your communities.
For most organizations, technology is seen as a mysterious black box that one throws money into to get some kind of widget, that does the thing that eventually results in funding coming back to the affiliate. Perhaps IT people/volunteers are seen as magical wizards that come in with rare concoctions and elixirs that if purchased or implemented will ease whatever technological woes you may have. For the lucky organizations, there may be a unicorn staff person that understands the magical black box and is willing to take the time to read through the advanced scrolls of Google and Youtube to gain a deeper understanding of the black box. My goal is to help you (yes, you person reading this newsletter) better understand technology and how your affiliate can better leverage it to better serve your community. So, let’s start with one of the most important questions that is asked in regards to technology.
How much should an organization be spending on technology?
Technology looks different for each organization, for most, these expenses would include: computers, peripherals, online subscriptions, cyber security, and 3rd party IT services. If you or your affiliate are looking at revamping your technology infrastructure, there are a few questions to help you start the conversation:
Q: What percentage of your overall budget is being spent on technology?
A: On average, we see non-profits organizations spending anywhere between 13% - 18% percent of their overall budget on technology.
Q: Do we have the right partners in place to make sure we’re spending money wisely?
A: A 3rd Party IT company is absolutely invaluable when looking at revamping and/or maintaining your technological infrastructure. Having in-house staff/volunteers to help with this is a common solution we see, and while that may help, that solution doesn’t hold well when scaled. If your organization doesn’t have a dedicated IT service as part of your infrastructure, making a plan to obtain one would be a healthy goal to have.
Q: How often are we reviewing our technology needs?
A: If you look at a metric like Moore’s law, computing power more or less doubles about every two years. With that mentality, PC computers tend to become obsolete within 3-4 years. There are obvious exceptions but that is dependent on how much is spent at the time of purchase and the technological advancements that happens after the time or purchase. To this point, this is a major reason why having a trusted 3rd Party IT service is so important when reviewing your technology infrastructure.
Q: Are we leveraging our non-profit status when looking at contracts, purchases, and subscriptions?
A: This is something that I see many organizations overlook. Did you know that asa 501c3 organization, you can get a free instance of Google Workspace? Or 50% off your zoom licenses? Or a drastically reduced price on Microsoft Office licenses? This is where knowing about a great site like Techsoup.org comes into play. Techsoup provides 501c3 organizations discounts on a wide variety of software and they also have discounted hardware that organizations can purchase. This would be a good time to see if you or your organization has an account with them.
Along with this, whenever renewal time comes up for subscriptions, are you asking if they have nonprofit rates? Keep in mind that it’s ok to negotiate your subscriptions, you may not get things for free, but even a 5% discount is still money saved for your organization.
Q: Are we properly training our staff to get the most out of the technology we have?
A: The internet is an amazing place to learn about things. As someone who has no formal training in IT, I can think back to forums, YouTube videos, and other websites where I’ve learned pretty much everything I know. But it’s hard to know where to start. If you’re a visual learner, YouTube is an amazing resource to learn different aspect of technology. If you prefer to read through instructions, Reddit has a vast array of forums that will likely cover the question(s) you’re asking. Another thing to consider is to build out your personal network of people who work with technology. There are a number of people across the Michigan Habitat network who are more than willing to share what they know (me included!). If you don’t know where to start, you can simply email me and I’ll be happy to share and/or connect you with other people who enjoy working with the magical black box we call technology.
Hopefully this helps you and your organization start to think about next steps in your technology journey. Do you have technology questions and/or topics that you’d like us to focus on in this newsletter, email me at email@example.com and we’ll see what we can do!
Salesforce Administrator & IT Coordinator