Nonprofit IT support is difficult. The challenges are many:
Nonprofit systems face unique compliance considerations. Tech support must ensure that data management systems and infrastructures are compliant with the regulations that nonprofits must adhere to, including healthcare privacy, protecting children’s identities online, and more.
Nonprofits rely on specialized technology systems. Most nonprofits rely on a mix of technologies and platforms for specialized services (like fundraising) that standard IT providers typically aren’t well-versed in. And standard providers are less likely to be aware of the many programs that offer free or discounted technology licenses to nonprofits.
And, of course…
Resources are often limited. To make the point even clearer: A 50-100-person nonprofit and a 50-100-person for-profit have similar IT needs, but very different internal financial structures. The focus on keeping administrative costs low makes IT support for nonprofits a challenging proposition. And an IT support team that doesn’t understand nonprofit budgets can cause mutual frustrations or make wildly inappropriate technology suggestions.
But IT support for nonprofits can be done well. The key is in designing a solution that fits the needs of a nonprofit organization, as opposed to settling for a solution that’s been cookie-cut for the for-profit world.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what an ideal tech support solution for a nonprofit might look like. In this article, we’ll walk through support for a larger organization, specifically: a 50-100-employee nonprofit.
This organization is big enough to require a high level of support, but it likely won’t have the resources to staff a full-fledged team of IT experts and cover its own needs entirely internally.
So, the solution should be comprised of two parts:
1. An internal IT team.
50-100-employee nonprofits are typically large enough that staffing some internal IT personnel is likely to be helpful.
Generally, a nonprofit of this size may have strategic IT
personnel (such as an IT Director or Manager) dedicated to systems design and
future planning. The rationale is that, at this size, IT management is
important enough – and fundamental enough – to be integrated into strategic
With this number of workstations, there is also some value to having IT support on-site on a standard basis. At this scale, there are simply enough systems, workstations, and users to incur frequent low-level IT issues, and nonprofits can benefit from having internal support onsite to resolve them immediately.
Finally, an organization of this size may have other teams – such as a fundraising database team or a communications team – that interact frequently with the IT staff. Many nonprofits are innovative in delivering service through technology, and so other specialized program teams may need additional IT support.
Altogether, the internal team of a 50-100-employee nonprofit might include one Director-of-IT-type role and two or three IT technicians, depending on the levels of support and strategy that are needed.
2. A managed IT service provider.
For optimal IT support, though, 50-100-person nonprofits should supplement their internal team with managed IT services.
As mentioned, organizations at this size won’t be able to efficiently and fully handle support needs, security needs, and strategic needs entirely internally. And, of course, staff turnover may create a need for continuity that an outsourced IT management team can help provide.
Managed services can offer services that internal teams may not be best suited to provide, including:
Helpdesk support. For issues that can be addressed remotely, helpdesk support represents an important first line of defense. Users can have immediate issue support, and internal IT consultants can greatly reduce the number of tickets they’re required to deal with, freeing them up to focus on higher-level issues.
Cybersecurity monitoring. Managed services can also provide proactive cybersecurity monitoring, reducing risk, and allowing internal teams greater flexibility in time and focus.
Strategic expertise. No IT professional is an expert in every area of the field – you can’t be fully versed in all team management platforms, cloud management and training, and the latest versions of all Microsoft products and Apple products, for example. Managed service providers can draw on an entire team of diverse experts, and they can bring specific expertise to the areas that internal personnel may not be as familiar with – which can be critical in planning for effective systems.
The bottom line is that, while the focus of managed services may vary depending on context, they ultimately enable internal teams to perform at higher levels and in more impactful roles.
The extra level of support and expertise that these solutions offer can go a long way in larger nonprofits’ IT efforts. And it’s far more cost-efficient than staffing an internal team up to handle every aspect of IT.
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.
In short, if your 50-100-person nonprofit organization could benefit from better IT – via supplemental support or comprehensive outsourcing – 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.