Top tech challenges for nonprofits and how to tackle them (with examples)
Nonprofits need to spend less time on technology issues and more time on their organization’s mission. But when it comes to using enterprise software, nonprofits encounter significant challenges.
Learn how nonprofits can overcome budgetary, data management, and mobile experience challenges to ultimately mobilize more people and funds for their cause.
Software and IT budgets are shrinking.
Donors and volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, and the valuable resources they provide go straight to funding mission-critical operations.
Unfortunately, that means IT teams and software often don’t get the love they deserve.
There’s serious temptation for nonprofits to rely on technology workarounds to get stuff done, especially when creating or iterating on a solution can take more money, time, and IT resources than they have.
But even nonprofits can’t rely on the sweat equity of committed employees forever. They need a way to create better solutions, without seeking additional IT resources or investing money in an application that just doesn’t fit.
Enter no-code platforms like Skuid.
By removing the need to write code, Skuid makes it possible for people with zero development experience to design an app to meet their exact business requirements. And IT can use the tool to develop and iterate on apps faster.
The evidence shows that better solutions equals higher user adoption, which leads to higher productivity and engagement. It’s a domino effect.
And in cases like NCF’s, it can lead to a lot more funding for your mission.
National Christian Foundation (NCF) is the largest Christian grant-making foundation in the world.
NCF envisioned a robust new donor portal to manage grants, contributions, funds, and user profiles.
They spent nine years struggling to find a user interface to fit their unique processes—and their budget.
But without expensive code modifications, NCF couldn’t extend their existing system to donor-facing sites.
Additionally, extensive research revealed a host of features desired by both donors and back-office users that could not be delivered by the legacy ERP system or native Salesforce functions.
Using Skuid, NCF rolled out a powerful new online donor portal that reduced back-office processing costs while increasing donor participation. To date, the new site has yielded over $2.5 billion in grants to charities. NCF also saved over $1 million in development costs by using Skuid instead of other solutions.
“The Skuid solution has radically altered NCF’s Salesforce landscape,” says Jim Rich, director of product development at NCF. “The team at Skuid are masters of developing a toolkit that transforms Salesforce into a design-oriented platform with truly limitless flexibility.”
Donor and constituent data is not used effectively.
Data is the currency of business today, and that fact is no different for nonprofits.
Data can be used to direct marketing and fundraising efforts, and judge the quality and effectiveness of a program. Not to mention—big-name nonprofit funders like to see hard numbers on how organizations are performing.
But while many nonprofits are gathering a lot of data, most are not using it effectively—whether to improve operations, or tell their stories to coveted donors.
Data management can be intimidating for nonprofits, especially when they don’t have the tools or knowledge needed to handle it effectively.
In small organizations, you might find mission-critical data spread between notebooks, spreadsheets, and human memory.
Meanwhile, at larger organizations, leaders may have invested in data management platforms, but are unable to spend the time and money necessary to make those platforms work to their advantage.
Data still might reside in multiple different systems, increasing instances of duplicate data and risk of error.
Instead, nonprofits need to be able to bring all of their most important data into a single, unified user interface, and be able to display that data to the right person, at the right time. They need dynamic data filters and actionable data visualizations, all within a compelling user experience.
With Skuid, nonprofits can do just that. Check out this story from The Children’s Aid Society:
In 1984, Dr. Michael A. Carrera and The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) developed the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera). This evidence-based program of the Children’s Aid Society helps young people avoid becoming parents during the second decade of their lives.
Founder of the program, Dr. Michael Carrera says, “We track data about the whole person, measuring all seven of our key components — academics, employment, family life and sexuality education, self-expression, lifetime individual sports, medical and dental care, and mental health services.”
Previously CAS-Carrera had different systems to track different information, making it hard to share a complete picture of each student’s life. Plus, compiling performance reports was laborious and time-consuming.
With Skuid, CAS-Carrera created an innovative user interface that has cut staff data-entry time by 50%. In addition, program managers can now view mission-critical data on one screen with helpful visualizations that eliminate the need for multiple cumbersome reports.
The Skuid solution has been deployed to over 200 staff across the U.S., including remote workers using iPads who can access and update mission-critical information quickly from anywhere. With the Skuid user interface, staff data entry time has been cut by 50%, and grants increased by $7 million.
“Skuid has allowed us to be very strategic with our data, and helped us provide it to the people who need it, in the most effective way possible,” says Deputy Director Gregory Denizard.
Mobile is mainstream.
Mobile is no longer the future—it’s the here and now. Nonprofits are now pushed to create compelling mobile experiences for donors, employees, and the people they serve.
And it’s not just a matter of “getting with the times.” Mobile initiatives can drive real value, especially in global organizations, where mobile is the most efficient way to seamlessly connect projects and people across multiple locations and time zones.
But just as nonprofits struggle with technology budgets and data management, creating mobile experiences for users can seem like an insurmountable challenge.
The mobile experience is more than creating different formatting on a page—it involves thinking about the way users will interact with an application when they’re viewing it on their phone or tablet.
Generally, this kind of development requires specific coding expertise.
That’s where mobile low-code platforms come in. As a no-code platform, Skuid fits into the mobile development category as well, for its unique offering.
Industry analysts define mobile low-code platforms as platforms that enable rapid delivery of mobile applications with minimal coding and easy, fast deployment.
With a mobile low-code development platform, nonprofits can address the chronic mobile development talent shortage by expanding the number of professionals who can build mobile experiences, accelerating the efforts of professional developers, and supporting mobile-specific development needs.
Learn how The Chalmers Center at Covenant College created custom mobile interfaces with Skuid:
The Chalmers Center for Economic Development is a research and training organization that unites cutting-edge research, micro-economic development interventions, and social entrepreneurship principles to transform the lives of low-income people—without creating dependency.
In August 2011, The Chalmers Center launched ASSET, a project to deliver Microfinance-with-Education training to churches in the Majority World. Designed to scale up Chalmers’ international impact, ASSET required a centralized, cloud database and innovative, integrated mobile apps to capture real-time information from anywhere around the globe.
After considering many potential solutions, Chalmers chose Skuid to automate its ASSET program, in order to make the solution easier to use, faster, and more flexible to customize.
Donor-investors have been amazed at the degree of transparency and level of information provided by The Chalmers Center, including the ability to actually see and participate with the people in whom they are investing.
Chalmers can also monitor Mobile Training Center activity, even in remote parts of the world, virtually eliminating the possibility of fraudulent activities.
With immediate access to data, Chalmers can address issues more quickly, including getting mentoring and support services to Mobile Training Center staff. Field workers save time and improve accuracy by recording their work from the road.
With Skuid, The Chalmers Center dramatically improves performance by measuring quantitative and qualitative impact in churches and partnerships across the globe.
According to Chalmers’ founder and CEO, Brian Fikkert, “Skuid has enabled us to do things once thought impossible. In fact, we are now able to do things that organizations 10 times our size have not been able to achieve, with much less money and time.”