How technology benefits nonprofit operations

Digital technology can help with nonprofit management.
Date Published
11/27/2013

Technology becomes an essential asset for nonprofit organizations that learned to leverage it to their own strengths. There is a wide variety of tools organizations can use to either make their operations run more smoothly or gain the attention of a community. This can ultimately lead to greater participation in future fundraising campaigns.

From a budgetary perspective, organizations need to understand how far their current financial resources can go to reach out to donors, from individuals to large foundations, to support new technological initiatives. Depending on the scope of the change, there are many routes an organization can pursue. For nonprofit groups operating on a tight budget, there are free resources available that can help improve day-to-day office functions.

Make the most of donated software and hardware
Just recently, Microsoft offered Windows 8.1 to nonprofit organizations for free. The Next Web went into detail explaining how nonprofit groups can request the operating system through Microsoft’s software donation program. To take advantage of this, organizations essentially apply through Microsoft’s website and set up an account with a local TechSoup program. From that point on, organizations can apply for donated products and equipment. According to Microsoft’s website, the corporation works with more than 50,000 nonprofit groups and helps them to succeed by supplying them with technology resources.

With better access to hardware, charitable groups can take advantage of software for nonprofits that makes fundraising a far more manageable experience. Organizations can coordinate contact lists and more easily target specific groups of donors with seamless integration of donor management software.

Attract interest from a wider community
At the same time, nonprofit enterprises look to technology as a means to draw more awareness to their mission. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently looked at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has made significant investments in technology in an effort to create more foot traffic. The museum has integrated the Gallery One exhibit, which visitors can use to interact with works of art in more tangible ways.

Instead of physically touching the museum pieces, museum patrons can attempt to mimic various faces in paintings or poses in sculptures. David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, explained to the Chronicle the purpose of the technology is to attract a younger demographic. In addition to Gallery One, the museum also features a 40-foot touchscreen exhibit called the Collection Wall. Visitors can connect to every single piece of art the museum features and develop their own tour by saving images to an iPad.

To support the project, the nonprofit organization received a $10 million grant from the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation. While museum guests may have different reactions to the technology, the compelling use of digital equipment is an exciting prospect for many organizations. Depending on the scale of operations, different groups can use touchscreen devices to better engage donors, volunteers and project participants – and the screen doesn’t have to be 40 feet tall.

During fundraising events, nonprofit enterprises can allow individuals to interact with digital content, such as videos, graphics and mobile apps, to become more engaged with the organization. While these investments require financial support, they can potentially generate interest from a larger group of donors.

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