IT Services for Nonprofits: Digital Solutions That Help Spread Good in the World

IT Services for Nonprofits: Digital Solutions That Help Spread Good in the World
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: December 25, 2022

There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, including public charities, private foundations, religious organizations, chambers of commerce and civic leagues.

IT services for nonprofits play an important role in supporting noble causes of charities and other nonprofit foundations. Their workflow relies on modern technology: email, advertising channels, task management platforms and cybersecurity systems.

This guide will introduce you to IT services for nonprofits: you’ll find out why they are specific, what they include and how to choose the right kind of support for your needs.

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Why Are IT Services for Nonprofits Different?

Nonprofit organizations have a different mission than profit-oriented companies — their goal is to serve and help others: vulnerable social groups, animals, the environment or the community. Since they don't produce and sell goods or services, nonprofits must rely on volunteers, donors and other supporters’ help in order to fulfill their objectives.

Here are some of the nonprofits' specificities that require specialized IT support:

Variety of Stakeholders and Organizational Structure

While for-profit businesses' online presence is client-oriented, nonprofits must balance the demands of all involved parties — volunteers and donors, the board and community members, as well as the people who need their help. Therefore, an organizational structure with various stakeholders demands a different approach.

Specific Legal Compliance

Each nonprofit organization must comply with government regulations to retain its nonprofit status. The laws governing them differ from state to state and compliance requirements are another task IT support provides.

Limited Budget Disposal

Nonprofit organizations' budgets prioritize maximizing program activity while lowering administrative and infrastructure expenses. Therefore, nonprofits struggle to fund all tech necessities — hardware, software and server storage.

Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates charitable organizations based in the U.S., ranks nonprofits based on how efficiently they manage their administrative costs.

Specialized Technology Systems

Nonprofits use specialized software types that support the management and automation of their workflow and provide maximal performance — for example, enterprise resource planning (ERPs), customer relationship management (CRMs) or task management systems.

IT support for nonprofits should be able to choose the best software solution for their needs and implement and maintain it.

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What Are the Most Common Nonprofit IT Support Services?

IT support for nonprofits creates a secure IT environment through the following services:

  • Helpdesk support answers customers' questions and guides them through step-by-step actions to solve problems in emergency cases.
  • Onsite support provides technical assistance on a client’s website, performed by an engineer or IT expert.
  • Remote backup saves external copies of the organization’s data.
  • Disaster recovery planning implies detailed steps IT support will take in case of a power outage, cyberattack or similar crisis.
  • Network monitoring provides insights into network functioning and identifies issues in real time.
  • Cybersecurity defends clients’ hardware and data from malicious hacker attacks.
  • Compliance services help nonprofit organizations follow regulatory requirements.
  • Strategic planning identifies organizations’ goals and develops a strategy to fulfill them.

How to Choose IT Support for Nonprofits?

Nonprofits require specific IT support and you need a provider to cover them all. Consider the following factors while researching available options:

Experience

Check if the IT provider has experience in the nonprofit sector. If they have already worked with organizations similar to yours, chances are they are familiar with the type of services you require.

If the provider only works with profit-oriented companies and does not know the technology you use, you may need to opt for a more suitable choice.

Operation Model

You have two choices:

  • Managed IT services - a set of services at a fixed monthly price
  • Failover services - IT support resolves the problems when they occur.

Evaluate which model suits your requirements better.

Services

Ensure the provider offers the IT strategy you need, whether it's helpdesk support, onsite support, strategic planning, storage management or cybersecurity improvement.

References

Ask to see the IT provider’s previous clients' reviews, testimonials and case studies. Reach out to some of their customers to check how satisfied they are with the services they receive or check the best nonprofit IT service agencies in online directories, like DesignRush.

However, if the IT provider hesitates when you ask them about references, that’s not a good sign — consider other candidates for the job.

Price

Given the budget constraints of nonprofit organizations, look for an IT service provider that offers the best value within the price range you can afford — no hidden costs!

When Should You Outsource Nonprofit IT Support?

Choosing an outsourced IT service provider can be challenging because of the uniqueness and complexity of nonprofit organizations. Before you hire external help, make sure the provider understands the right kind of IT support that your service-oriented missions require.

Outsourced nonprofit IT support can have numerous advantages:

  • You can find an IT provider with high-level expertise in nonprofit demands.
  • Your staff can focus on their core roles and improve their productivity.
  • Outsourced IT professionals can prevent IT problems and lower security risks.
  • Outsourced IT costs are lower than hiring an internal team, training them and buying all the equipment and storage space.

Consider outsourcing IT support in two scenarios:

1. Nonprofit Organization Doesn’t Have an In-house IT Team

Over time, nonprofits expand and their internal IT management becomes too complex to handle without a professional team.

Small or medium-sized organizations might start with just one employee handling email correspondence and other online responsibilities. However, if the nonprofit aims to grow, this approach is not sustainable. Lack of time or expertise to plan future strategy is a certain sign that it's time to hire help and outsourced IT for small businesses can be the solution.

Another more apparent sign that current IT personnel needs to outsource IT duties are often delays, slow internet connection, unanswered emails, virus-infected computers and data breaches.

2. In-house IT Team Needs Additional Support

Outsourced IT services aren't reserved just for small organizations that can't afford in-house IT teams. Large nonprofits with solid internal IT teams can also need outsourced help.

For example, if the internal team is specialized in strategic expertise but lacks technical knowledge in online security, the nonprofit will benefit from hiring outsourced security IT experts.

IT Services for Nonprofits: Final Thoughts

As they are restoring faith in humanity, nonprofit organizations require IT organization, compliance and protection to fully dedicate themselves to their noble missions.

Hacker attacks happen every 39 seconds. The cyberattack on The International Committee of the Red Cross, which affected more than 515,000 members of vulnerable social groups, proved that hackers do not avoid targeting nonprofit organizations.

Cyber (in)security is not the only issue nonprofits are dealing with. Nonprofits face various challenges that IT services can help overcome, including complex organizational structures, specific legal compliance, tight budgets and demanding technologies their operations require.

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