Charities and Technology: Focus on Your Mission, not IT Issues

Chairty Technology

Today, I am at a conference of local historical societies from all over the State of Wisconsin. Something I have learned from the past 15 years of working in both the charity and technology world is that many charitable organizations forgo their technology needs in hopes that the money can be used elsewhere.

While I understand the dire need to pinch pennies and stretch every dollar in the non-profit world, there is a much better way for charities to look at their technology needs! Let me use an example of the typical technology in a small charity with only one or two volunteers working on a daily basis:

The Charity, Inc., office is open from 10 to 4 each day, so volunteer Mary comes in to open the office each day. On the way into the office, she picks up the mail at the post office so she can enter donations, set bills aside to be paid, and reply to mail when she gets to the office. She arrives at the office about 9:55, sets the mail on the desk and turns on the computer. This computer was donated by a loyal supporter 4 years ago when they bought a new one. This just wasn’t working as well as they felt it should have, so they offered it to Chairty, Inc., as a gift. While the computer starts up, Mary begins going through the mail for the organization and finds two letters needing responses, three checks to enter into the computer, and the required volume of junk mail. It’s now 10:15, and the computer has finally gotten to the Windows screen. Mary begins formulating responses to the letters in her head as she waits.

Finally, about 10:20, the desktop shows up on the old 14-inch monitor. Mary tries to open up the word processing program that came with the computer, Word 2007, and that prompts a little round circle to replace the mouse pointer. As she waits, Mary begins writing her response notes on a scratchpad near the computer. Around 10:30, a blank Word document appears on the screen. Mary begins typing, but notices that the free antivirus program is bogging down the system with its automatic daily scan that is scheduled to run at night but could not run since the computer was turned off. After about 25 minutes of typing to get her letter written, Mary, frustrated, finally hits the print button, only to be met with a printer error due to the inexpensive printer having run out of ink. “I just replaced the cartridge two weeks ago, I swear!” Mary murmurs under her breath.

It is often a concern of charities to keep spending low, but this example shows many of the problems using outdated technology can cause. If you were Mary, what would your impression be of volunteering at Charity, Inc.? And we haven’t even gotten to the Treasurer’s problems trying to wrangle all the financial records from an Excel spreadsheet into some kind of report for the board every month.

Kelly’s Komputers can help your charity with updating technology to make your volunteers (and staff, if you have some) have joyful experience when they help, and redirect their time to helping the cause they hold dear to their hearts, not fighting with your computer.

Contact us today if you would like a free consultation for your charity. We can help you identify your hardware and software needs and we also give charities residential pricing for our managed IT services to make sure your organization can run as efficiently as possible to focus on accomplishing the mission that you are most passionate about.

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