As we’ve discussed before, nonprofit IT support is unique. There are challenges specific to the context – and, for smaller organizations (20 to 50 employees), those challenges can become even more pointed.
Budgets are smaller. Resources must be allocated wisely. The importance of every strategic choice is heightened.
Accordingly, smaller organizations may struggle with:
Serving smaller numbers of users with cost-efficient, high-quality solutions.
The most powerful technology solutions are often designed for larger organizations. There are free or affordable versions of software and technologies that smaller organizations may be able to make work, but they often aren’t as robust. It can be tricky to balance cost-efficiency with quality at this size.
Providing IT training.
Training helps to empower users and protect organizations, but it’s hard to manage in smaller organizations where there tend to be fewer tech experts and resources are already stretched.
Finding the resources to be both strategic and responsive.
Again, resources in these organizations are stretched, and smaller nonprofits likely don’t have IT teams built up to take care of every strategic and tactical need. Usually, strategy suffers as tech people get busy chasing after tickets.
Deciding whether to hire an internal IT resource.
The 20-50-person range is generally when organizations begin to consider hiring internal IT employees. Making this decision – and hiring for the right role – can be challenging.
In the face of these challenges, creating a good IT support solution can seem difficult. But it can be done. For a smaller organization, here’s what that solution might ideally look like.
1. An internal IT resource (IT Director or Office Admin)
It’s generally worthwhile for organizations at this size to have an internal IT resource.
The exact responsibilities of this resource will vary depending on the organization’s context; they might be a Director of IT (high-cost, higher strategy) or they might simply be an office administrator (more hats, less IT strategy).
For organizations of this size, though, it’s generally preferable to have some internal point of contact for tech support. This person’s job should not necessarily be to respond to tickets (although they may help in this way), but more so to help coordinate solutions. Without this person, outsourcing tech support will be more difficult.
2. A managed IT service provider.
Second, it’s ideal that an organization of this size work with a managed IT service provider to facilitate their tech support needs.
A managed service provider offers a package of IT support services at a fixed, monthly price. Generally, for organizations of this size, the provider can serve as the full IT department, able to provide strategic guidance and also function as a backstop for tech issues. For example, organizations at this size that have access to a helpdesk can save their internal IT resource a ton of time and headaches.
Managed services can be cost-effective; compared to hiring internally, they offer access to broader expertise (they staff entire teams of experts) and more availability (they’re available nights and weekends).
Most managed providers offer services like:
- Helpdesk support
- Onsite support
- Remote backups
- Network monitoring
- Network design
- Strategic planning
Out of these services, helpdesk support, remote backups, and strategic planning would likely be top priority for 20-50 person NPOs; with the help of these offerings, they’d be relieved of the low-grade ticket pressure, safeguarded (to some degree) against security issues, and able to plan for the future.
In tandem with an internal point of contact, the managed IT service model can fully service the tech support needs of a 20- to 50-employee nonprofit.
Smaller nonprofits without dedicated internal IT roles will find that a managed service provider is able to essentially become the organization’s IT team. Those that do have dedicated internal IT roles will find that employees gain time to provide more value with less pressure.
It’s an ideal solution.
Ready to Take the Next Step Toward Better Nonprofit IT Support?
If you’re ready to take the next step toward better tech support, get in touch with us.
Nonprofit IT support is unique, and it can be complicated and difficult. But at Community IT Innovators, we help nonprofits accomplish their missions with better IT.
Our process is based on 25 years of exclusively serving nonprofits. We feature high-level strategic expertise to help you plan for the future (not just put out fires). We’ve built our employee-owned business by focusing on the specific needs of our clients.
We understand that smaller nonprofits play big roles in their communities. Your mission matters. You deserve to have your needs prioritized.
In short, if your 20-50-person nonprofit organization could benefit from better IT – via helpdesk support, onsite support, managed services, or more – we can help.
Schedule a free consultation, and we’ll discuss the needs of your organization and identify the areas of greatest impact to drive better IT that’ll empower your mission.