My grandmother sent me a Bitmoji yesterday. I can track the location of the public bus from an app on my phone. It’s 2020 and technology is everywhere. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you 90% of a 2 trillion-dollar industry was still collecting data with pen and paper. Unfortunately, our research found this is the case for nonprofits.
HuffPost reports over 6.9 billion hours are volunteered in the U.S. each year, and it is taking managers almost as many to collect and keep track of all the data that comes along with that. People volunteer at nonprofits to make a difference, not to be swamped in paperwork and excel spreadsheets. Despite this, according to Volunteer Hub, only 55% of nonprofits have the tools to assess volunteer impact.
Management recognizes the problem. After dozens of interviews we conducted, we found fifteen of twenty-five nonprofit organizations said that high tech use and tracking hours is a priority for them, with eight more saying it is an issue of interest. Additionally, Yale School of Management reports only 11% believe their use of technology is effective.
So, how can organizations begin to leverage technology? The article from Yale suggests starting simple. Nonprofits operate under tight budgets and have limited time. So, adopting a gadget for every little problem is not a feasible solution. The most important thing to do is gain comfort and familiarity with using technology on a daily basis.
Take IslandWood for example, their mission is to inspire lifelong community and environmental stewardship. They work to achieve their mission through a variety of after school programs and used to spend hundreds of hours keeping track of everything with spreadsheets. Salesforce helped their finance team move into the cloud, and they now are “are able to close monthly finances three days faster, have increased visibility with sales and philanthropy teams, and can better monitor and track grants and programs.” By using technology to improve internal collaboration, IslandWood “sees their finance team as partners, not just number crunchers,” and this has been the most impactful change.
Other solutions include TechSoup, an international online platform that connects communities to the best local and global technological resources, and of course, Civic Champs, a software solution which makes tracking hours, personalizing the volunteer experience, asking for donations, and analyzing impact a simple and enjoyable process.
A quick Google search will reveal that there is no shortage of tools and technologies out there. Choosing which one is right for your organization can be daunting, but the vast list of potential benefits make addressing the issue worth it. As Jason Mogus put it, by not using technology, “nonprofits are leaving a significant impact on the table.”
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Civic Champs helps nonprofits get back their time to do the things that matter most. We streamline the volunteer process through a mobile-first platform to allow Executive Directors and Volunteer Coordinators to get more time in their week.
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