( March 2012)
Nonprofits maintain a complicated relationship with technology. Most know that software can streamline their processes and help fulfill their missions more efficiently and effectively, yet lean staffing and tight budgets mean they’re unable to devote the time necessary to keep up with new technologies and find the right tools.
This 44-page research report from MAP for Nonprofits describes the findings of a survey of 180 Minnesota human service nonprofit and the detailed follow-up interviews with staff members from 13 of those organizations. The data reveal four core elements common to organizations who used technology to successfully innovate program delivery:
- Identifying needs: The organizations took time to step back and assess the things they could be doing better, or differently.
- Understanding technology: The organizations also took the time to become informed about the technologies available to them—those that they already had and other affordable solutions relevant to their needs.
- Connecting needs and technology: The successful organizations had catalysts for their innovations, often external to the organization. For example, one organization was inspired at a national conference to address an existing need using eLearning technologies.
- Supporting change: The successful nonprofits took steps to make sure their organizations were on board with the solutions they were implementing, and that sufficient resources were available to see them through to completion and to sustain them in the future.
These nonprofits used technology to improve the ways they serve constituents. As the survey revealed, such solutions don’t necessarily require a significant investment or in-depth planning process.