Effective case management software is an investment of time, effort, and money for any nonprofit. So it’s imperative that you take the time to research and ensure you’re getting the best technology for your organization. But, with countless systems on the market, where do you start? We’re here to help!
Before you dive in, assess your organization’s needs and determine how software will work within your organization. Whether you use it for case management, data collection, or outcomes reporting, nonprofit software is essential for showing a top-down view of an organization’s impact on the people it serves. Ready to get started?
Virtually every industry and sector needs to keep track of and use data in one way or another. But the way a multinational corporation uses data will inherently differ from how a restaurant uses data or the way a school uses data. And, of course, nonprofits’ data requirements and workflows are unique in their own right. So why should your nonprofit have to work on a system created for anything other than a nonprofit? If you choose a technology solution that is not specialized for nonprofits, it can cause delays in implementation and long hours of training and problem-solving. Systems designed with nonprofits in mind will be more intuitive for staff and aligned with your needs to maximize the value of your technology investment from the start.
If your organization is like most nonprofits, you have a set of processes and procedures that help keep everything organized and running as smoothly as possible. There’s no other organization that’s exactly like yours, which is why it’s essential to find a case management software solution that allows you to tailor the technology to your workflow. Rigid systems will limit your ability to organize data the way you need it—especially if your needs evolve over time. So make sure the solutions you evaluate will enable you to create forms, categories, labels, emails, reports, and outcome metrics that align with your specific needs.
If you are concerned about data security, HIPAA or Safe Harbor compliance, client privacy, or staff management, it’s imperative that you know and understand the security features of your potential nonprofit data solution. Be sure the technology you’re assessing has uptime guarantees and standard data protection features as well as form and record-level security access permissions to ensure that your staff and volunteers only see the data appropriate for their tasks. Doing so allows your organization to comply with state and federal regulations and assure clients and staff that you take data security, compliance and privacy seriously.
Data is essential to how your organization proves its impact. It helps you understand your participants, optimize programs, demonstrate outcomes, attract more funding, and so much more. However, collecting data in and of itself is not enough. You must be able to use that data to demonstrate how you are making a difference and progressing toward your goals and mission. When evaluating technology solutions, ensure the system in question offers different views of your data as well as easily generated reports. If you cannot visualize and graph the data you need into organized reports for internal and external reporting, your organization’s strategic decision-making, marketing and impact storytelling could suffer.
When it comes to technology, the one-size approach does not fit all. Nonprofits can range in size from one to thousands of employees and could have a singular focus or multiple strategic initiatives. Buying a monolithic solution that doesn’t allow you to tailor the technology for your needs could be an expensive mistake. Flexibility is the key here. You need to be able to buy the features, seat licenses, and service plans you need today without running the risk of blowing your budget on unnecessary items. And if your organization’s size grows and you need to scale up, your technology provider should be able to scale with you.
Remember, nonprofit technology should make your job easier and more effective. It’s an investment that should drive your mission forward for you and those you serve. If your current system isn’t doing just that, it might be time to evaluate your technology and invest in a system that can.
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