It can be helpful to think of technology as falling into one of two categories; critical or impacting. I wish that nonprofits would view the array of technology they have as falling into either of these roles. Lets take a high level look at each of these.
If this technology failed, it would be a wheels off the bus kind of moment. That doesn’t mean that your stress level would just rise, or that people would be inconvenienced, but that you would cease to function. You need to ensure that this is managed well and funded appropriately.
Some more general critical pieces of technology would be your email and your internet connection. Depending on what your nonprofit is focused on there will be a few other additions to this list, but without these items you’ll be unable to get anything done.
In general it is best to subscribe to services to take care of your mission-critical technology. The money you save doing it yourself is just not worth it when something goes wrong. A service provider will have staff to resolve issues that you don’t have ready in-house, so it is really not worth it to do these things yourself.
Mission Impacting Technology
This is where it gets exciting. Mission impacting technology is used by your nonprofit to make meaningful strides that directly impact your mission. Many of these tools could be seen as mission-critical because of the direct impact they cause.
Examples could be the ticketing software that lets the theater group sell tickets online, or the membership software that helps you welcome and integrate new people. This software is not just a tool, it’s a strategic asset that makes a major difference when used well.
After all of your critical pieces are taken care of, this is where to focus. There is not enough time in your week to spend fussing with other things. Yes, it will feel like you’re dropping the ball on some things, because you will, and that’s inevitable. But we need to be courageous and let the less impactful things fall so that we can do the things that really matter.
What about Everything else?
If you can go without it I would recommend dropping it. It might even be the best solution that you researched and excitedly launched last year. It happened. At Fresh Vine we loose a few customers a year because their nonprofits just struggled to get their leaders to use our membership software. It failed to be the impacting technology they needed it to be. You might expect me to be disappointed we’re losing a customer, but instead I’m proud they are using technology with purpose.