April 5, 2007: Nonprofit operations in all things related to technology. We'll be meeting at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington D.C.
Notes from Session:
Needs of Group:
--How to integrate technology in operations
--How to decipher wide range of technology options/how to sort and choose best option
--Project management/technology concepts within organizations
--See how other nonprofits manage their operations
--Manage technology solutions/HR systems--Challenges from an operations standpoint
--Gift processing management
--Trying to sync databases
--Feedback about what people are looking for with tools.
--Get the tools that the large organizations have.
--Share what is working!
How do nonprofits select software?
-Ask for a list of customers and ask who is using the same software.
-Go through formal requirements process.
-Invite and ask the salesperson to listen to the needs of your nonprofit.
-Level of scale/nonprofits need to know what software you need.
-If an organization has a strategic plan, in implementing that strategic plan it will take the steps to prioritize and budget for the right software.
-For smaller nonprofits, find what system best fits your need.
-In the new web based model, nonprofits don't have to need to know everything they need in a database. Additional features can be added later.
-Find out the tech support plan for the piece of software, does it cost more?
-Determine who in the organization will be using the software and what is their ability for going along with this change/new software.
-Draw a graph of actual and possible.
-Determine who is the driving force for acquisition of technology--for example if the ED will not go along with the new software purchase it is bound to fail.
One large nonprofit was using a separate fundraising database and separate accounting system and realized that they needed to keep the two separate systems
Another large nonprofit wanted to use separate software for each department but then it got to be too expensive and they did the research to find an integrated system. They ended up implimenting Salesforce.com because it could do the function for each department. However, it costs $5,000+ to customize Salesforce.com to each nonprofit's needs.
-Is the most popular software out there.
-This is because fundraising departments bring in the most money.
-Fundraising systems don't do the outcome measurement or case management or volunteer management.
-Funders/Foundation are looking for outcomes.
-Nonprofits should be able to show that they can cut costs by implementing the new software/database.
-Can impact on mission be shown through the database?
-Arego Sector Press--shows summary of research in the nonprofit sector.
-What happens to a nonprofit that focuses on outcomes--research shows they get less funding?
-Efforts to outcome software. (ETO) Put out by Social Solutions.
Content Management Systems (CMS)(Website software):
-Should a nonprofit go with the CMS?
-It depends on the nonprofit needs.
--If people aren't going to use it then it is pointless to implement.
-From the start--do we need this change? Staff needs to be around through the implementation process, it is challenging to implement a software project when managers turn over. With the implementation/do some training and hire a person to have the commitment to have the skills to. Start with pilot small groups with the implementation and rolling it out.
-Do nonprofits make a bigger effort using software they pay for versus software they get for free?
-Essential back office software nonprofits will use no matter what.
-The availability of the product determines how much nonprofits will use it.
Technology Training and Orientation for New Staff
-There needs to be a formal orientation process for training new staff around use of software and technology. As well as documentation. It was suggested that employees receive training from HR every three months. Meet individually with staff to train them.
-Some organizations do not lett new staff access anything and log-in without doing an orientation/sign release of liability.
-It was suggested that nonprofits send technology documents to candidates immediately following the interview process, so they are accountable to bring some knowledge to the table when they start the job.
-Web trainings/wiki based training for training and orientation.
-This is a management issue-if not given a proper management authority to do training.
-Technology services welcome packet.
Lists of Software:
-Web based HR
-ADP HR software
-Home grown system
CRM (Customer Relationship Management Tools)
-Zoho--looking for toolbox advisor
-Democracy in Action