Running a nonprofit organization is not a simple task — there seems to be hurdles every step of the way for your team to overcome. Between funding and proving your organization’s impact, challenges for nonprofits can seem insurmountable. But with the use of technology and a new perspective, you can overcome these challenges to make sure you’re making a difference within your community During Impact Summit 2018, ETO users during the All Access session, led by client Friends of the Children, met to share some of their hurdles and how technology has helped them overcome these issues.
Fear of Change
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the fear of change, especially when it comes to a more established nonprofit. Oftentimes, people are set in their ways. That can mean anything from excel or other databases to using a pen and paper to keep your case notes. This results in only tracking certain data points if you’re tracking any at all. If it’s the way your organization has always done things, trying something new can be scary.
The best way to combat that is to do your research on new options available to you. Learning about technology options out there can help make the change less scary. What do you have to fear if you know what your nonprofit needs and what will best suit those needs? Learn more about the things you should be asking yourself as you evaluate your needs with our handy data sheet, and if you’re still not sure, check out a recent NAPCO study about organizations using operational software.
One of the biggest challenges for nonprofits is a shortage of funding. Not having enough money to deliver the services you want can be an incredibly frustrating part of the business of nonprofit. There’s always something more that you’d like to do, and it would be easy if funding wasn’t a factor! But the reality is that a grant can be the difference between being able to keep your doors open for your community or shutting down entirely.
Case management software can play a major part in helping you get grants. Having data readily available so you can get the most up-to-date information can help prove your impact to the grant giver. This grant template can help you get everything you need for upcoming grants, but being able to have that information at hand can make all the difference.
Confidence in Data
One of the major challenges for nonprofits is data. Tracking data is imperative for nonprofit organizations these days, but if you’re not tracking the right data and doing so properly, you’re adding a lot of extra work for little to no reward. Data is certainly one of the challenges for nonprofits, especially in a fast-paced world. Why put any confidence in data if what it’s telling you is unclear? Or worse, what if you see negative outcomes in the data you’re tracking?
Maybe tracking data doesn’t seem necessary, especially if you’re not tracking currently, but it makes all the difference.
Learning more about the data you should be tracking is incredibly helpful if you’re already collecting and tracking data but have little to no confidence in it. Conducting an audit and correcting your course can prove to be a huge help on getting the most out of your data. Addressing how you collect your data can also make an impact in your data journey. Are you using case management software to collect your data, or are you using a spreadsheet and manually checking for duplicates? A new system can help strengthen your data, giving you more of a reason to be confident.
If you’re tracking your data and you’re seeing negative outcomes, that’s okay! That means that there are things that need to be addressed. Maybe the data needs to be audited, maybe you’re tracking the wrong things, or maybe there needs to be a shift in your service delivery. Data tells a story about your organization, and it can be used to make decisions that work best for you.
If you’re seeing negative outcomes, maybe your organization is feeling the squeeze of mission creep. Has your mission changed? Or are you meeting your original mission’s goals at all? This is a common challenge across nonprofits. It’s possible that your organization is trying to do too much, or maybe your service delivery has developed in a way that you didn’t originally consider.
One way that technology can play a part in solving your mission creep is to help track your outcomes. You can see how often clients are going to programs that you’re running — making it easier to see where you can trim. If a program is underperforming, you’ll be able to see that in your reports, and you can make decisions off that. If you set out to help one part of the community, but you have more of an impact with another part (which you’ll be able to see if you track your data) you can readdress your mission.
Challenges for nonprofits exist at every turn. Between not being able to secure the funding you need, a mission changing over time, or the fear of change, there are dozens of issues to overcome. However, with the use of technology, these challenges can be met head on and overcome so that you can continue to impact lives as you set out to do.