IT Support for Associations & Non-Profits
Operating an association or non-profit brings with it unique challenges usually not seen in a normal, for-profit company. Because associations are primarily non-profit, with funds supplied by private donors and different types of grants, money tends to be a bit tighter. IT services can play a vital role in the operation and support of different types of associations, regardless of its specific purpose. As such, it is of paramount importance for an association’s IT spending to concentrate on a return on investment. It is also important for all tech investments and expenditures to have the capacity to increase efficiency, without disrupting the operations of the organization as a whole.
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Network Depot has over 25 years of experience dealing with the different nuances specific to the area of associations. Many times, an association without a comprehensive IT system can find itself straying from its actual mission to commit resources, time, and effort to managing IT problems that crop up. These situations make it of great importance to ensure that all IT solutions implemented keep costs low, and all areas of your computer network managed properly. To help you achieve these goals, Network Depot will offer your organization assistance as discussed below.
One popular misconception is that non-profit organizations do not experience the same level of technological difficulty that their for-profit counterparts do. People tend to forget that just because an organization is not looking to make money does not mean that they do not have the needs that are satisfied most effectively by expensive tech equipment and services. According to a report compiled through the Johns Hopkins Listening Post project, surveyed non profits came up short in a few key areas:
- Thirty percent of non profits did not have the number of computers needed to satisfy their needs.
- Twenty percent reported that they are still reliant on “basic services,” or those that are paper based.
- Thirty percent indicated that program and service delivery was very limited in terms of technological assistance.
Network Depot has over 25 years experience in dealing with non-profit organizations, and their special needs. We understand that what works for a for-profit company may not mesh correctly with the needs of a non profit. Your organization requires a comprehensive and effective support scheme in place, one that keeps costs as low as possible, while still ensuring everything stays running at peak performance. Our team of consummate professionals can work side by side with you and your staff, to make sure the solutions we have to offer are well within the limits of your budget, and can handle your unique needs as efficiently as possible.
Importance of TechSoup for Budget
An organization called TechSoup can offer a much-needed helping hand to associations and non-profits in overcoming IT cost issues through access to donated IT equipment and discounted business applications. For more information about this valuable resource please take a look at the following Network Depot blog post: TechSoup is Essential for the Non-Profit Soul!
Management of the Organization
One of the most important aspects of a successful association is having workflows that are the height of effective and efficient. Many associations provide services in multiple locations, with areas of operation that many times span the entire globe. The management of volunteer databases, and the vital need to make sure services can be delivered successfully, are all primary concerns that can keep an association from realizing the dream of why they opened up shop in the first place, if not dealt with properly.
Network Depot understands these important factors, and provides increasing advantages over those associations that may have decided to take a different approach. These advantages include providing your employees with the capacity to be more productive, and increasing the efficiency of workflows, all without sacrificing any valuable employee time or effort.
Volunteer and Donor Information Management
A recent report published by the non-profit organization, Blog Guidestar, outlined the top tech challenge faced by non-profit organizations. This report, which included over 200 different non profits, found that the integration of software used to track and manage donors with an existing IT structure is the biggest obstacle they have run into. This causes untold problems in managing the data for donors and volunteers, which can in turn effect how well the non profit operates.
Network Depot understands that the proper and smooth integration of your donor and volunteer data with your new or existing IT layout is one of supreme importance. We can not only ensure that this integration goes smoothly, but also that you will have no problems tracking and managing volunteer and donor information whatsoever.
Maximizing Your ROI
Given that the very essence of a non-profit organization is that it is not in existence to make money, budgets have a tendency to be tighter than the for-profit variety. Few things are more important than making sure you have a stable and effective IT environment using as few funds as possible.
While it may sound confusing when applied to a non profit, one of the chief considerations when implementing an IT infrastructure is what it will provide in terms of return on investment, or ROI. How this applies to a an entity not focused on money is how much these tech advancements will allow workflows to improve, thus saving the organization money. Over time, if the most suitable system is chosen, the savings seen from the advantages it provides will soon exceed the cost of installing the system itself.
Network Depot can assess the IT system you are planning, or currently have in place, and offer solutions that will allow you to achieve the highest level of ROI. This will save you money over time, and enhance your reputation with the resulting marked increase in service and efficiency.
Cloud Services vs. Dedicated Server
One critical IT decision your company has to make is where to store your Email, files, and business applications and how you can most effectively access these functions. Your decision in each case will be one of the following: using a dedicated server, using a cloud solution, or using a hybrid solution.
One of the most effective means to store data safely, all while being able to access it from anywhere with your phone, laptop, or desktop, is the cloud. With the cloud, you gain all of the advantages of a high-powered server farm, without any of the frustrating, technical details and maintenance that go into keeping it running. Network Depot will help you choose the cloud platform that will work best with your unique setup, and provide key assistance in implementing and maintaining it as needed.
The following articles explain the pros and cons of each method and will help your company make the decision that works best for your unique needs.
Not All Clouds are Created Equal
Business Applications- Server vs. Cloud
Data and Network Security
Another vital component that greatly contributes to how successful an association is at achieving their goal is the reams of information and data that are gathered from a variety of sources. Given the nature of most associations, this data can be extremely sensitive, containing the private financial and medical information that is so enticing to hackers. Without an effective and powerful compliance strategy, an association can find itself exposed to several types of negative results. Some serious repercussions include:
- Losing opportunities for grant funding
- Severe penalties from the government
- Loss of reputation, which can hamper its ability to perform its mission
Network Depot puts the security of your network and data in a place of chief importance, and is committed to developing and implementing strategies that can weather virtually any storm. Having a team of professionals at your back can go a long way towards avoiding any potential pitfalls that can rise from the theft or loss of sensitive data or files.
Backup, Recovery, and Continuity
As with virtually every other type of business in operation today, disruptions to the operation of an association can take many forms. Natural or man-made disasters, equipment malfunction, and human error can all wreak havoc on the efficiency of both internal and external operations. As such, two goals must be foremost in mind when developing an effective IT strategy: avoiding these problems if possible, and the most effective way to keep things running smoothly in the event that disaster is unavoidable.
Network Depot uses a comprehensive solution that not only ensures that data is kept stored safely and redundantly, but also in a way that it can be restored in as short a time as possible. Network Depot will work closely with your employees to understand and predict which types of calamities are most likely to strike, how to best avoid them, and generate a fallback plan in case the unthinkable does occur.
One of the responsibilities included in the inner workings of any association is the ability to stay in contact with all involved parties, such as stakeholders and the public in general. This makes the acquisition and maintenance of both a reliable email service and a trustworthy phone system so important to the successful operation of an association.
Telephone systems currently available to most associations are the Public Branch Exchange (PBX), and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). A PBX system is comprised of the normal land line setup that has been around for over a century. A VOIP system converts analog signals into digital ones, and transmits the data across the internet, such as the ever-popular Skype service.
Network Depot draws from an extensive amount of experience in dealing with the intricacies of an association to advise you on which type of telephone system is right for your unique setup. Primary factors that go into this decision include how much it costs, how much the system can be scaled in case of growth, and how flexible and easy the system is for the average employee to use properly.
Our team of dedicated professionals are especially adept at handling the unique budgetary constraints placed on most associations, as well as handling all aspects of the requirements for their network. If you would like more information on how Network Depot can assist you in setting up an effective IT solution for your association, please contact us at your earliest convenience.