Technology Integration at Your Nonprofit
Technology integration at your nonprofit can be one of the most rewarding changes to build into your processes. But it can take time and investment for the tech to truly be adopted by all members of your organization.
“Tech adoption” or “tech integration” is when individuals and organizations integrate new technology into their daily operations. This can include the use of new software, hardware, and devices, as well as integrating new processes and workflows. It’s an important consideration for organizations as they strive to stay competitive in an ever-changing tech landscape.
Steps organizations can take to facilitate the technology integration process:
- Identify a specific need or problem that the new technology can solve.
- Conduct research and compare different options to determine the best solution.
- Develop a plan for implementing the technology, including timelines and a budget.
- Communicate the plan to everyone involved in the process and provide training and support to help them understand and use the new technology. Also let the whole staff know why the tech is being implemented and how it will solve pain points they have.
- Monitor the implementation and track progress with how many people are consistently using it.
- Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and make adjustments as necessary.
- Encourage and reward the adoption and usage of the technology.
Be prepared for resistance to change by addressing concerns and objections promptly. By providing clear benefits and focusing on the bigger picture, you can help smooth the transition.
Also, involving key stakeholders and end-users in the decision-making process can increase buy-in and adoption.
Tech tools for nonprofits
There are a LOT of tools out there that claim to solve all of your problems. In reality, no one tool does it all. When considering new tools, it’s really important to take some time to ask yourself and your team:
- What are our needs? Do you need better scheduling, easier communication, website integration, or maybe an app for easier connection to your volunteers?
- What are processes that staff do manually that could be automated? Do they send confirmation and receipts, update the website, or calculate data for reporting?
- What’s our budget? There are both free and paid versions of many tools. In fact, we recommend checking out tools that offer free options before purchasing, including your VMS?
- Will the tool integrate with other tools you already use? Do you need it to integrate with your website or donor management system?
- What are must-have features, and which are negotiable? Not everything can be a must-have; remember, there are no tools that solve all our needs. Make a list of the absolute must-haves and make sure whatever tool you choose has those at a minimum.
- Do the tools have the opportunity to try before we buy? Trial versions are a great way to test out features and see if they will meet your team’s needs. And it’s even better if the tool offers a free version (like POINT).
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Once you have found the tools that answer the questions above, building them into your processes is important. Because change can be challenging, especially when you first adopt new tech. Remember, throughout the integration process, it is important to remind everyone how the change will make their jobs easier.
To create excitement about the possibilities of integrating tech in your volunteer program, begin by addressing the answers to the questions you asked before:
- What needs did we say we had, and how will the new tech address those?
- What will staff no longer have to do manually?
- What is included in the costs as outlined in the budget?
- What must-have features are included? Did any of the nice-to-haves get included?
- Did the tech get tested to ensure it works for the processes?
Once you’ve gotten the tech adoption process rolling, ask:
- What goals can we achieve now?
- What new projects can we do now?
- How will new processes improve ways of work? For example:
- Our lists are in multiple spreadsheets, emails, and chats. Now we will have one centralized location for all this information, ensuring we continuously have updated information.
- Double-booking volunteers. Now there will be one calendar for all volunteer opportunities, so we don’t double book.
- It needs to be clarified if a volunteer has submitted all their paperwork. The volunteer profiles now track that information.
To help even more with the successful tech adoption with your team, you can:
- Tap influential stakeholders promote and reinforce the use of the tech (volunteers, team leaders, EDs, board members, etc.)
- Host a kickoff with staff and volunteers demo the tech and how it works.
- Host a kickoff event with volunteers to show how to find and sign up for volunteer opportunities.
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