For nonprofit organizations, determining when to outsource IT support can be a complicated decision.
There’s unique pressure in nonprofit environments. Nonprofit organizations tend to be particularly focused on maximizing the cost-efficiency of administrative functions (often to maintain compliance with their charters). Nonprofit IT support is needed – but it needs to be delivered in the right contexts in ways that align with nonprofits’ functions.
Let’s unpack what that looks like.
The Case for Outsourcing IT Support
First, should nonprofits outsource at all? Or, put another way, why not hire internally for all nonprofit IT needs? The answers lie in the three main benefits to outsourcing: cost-efficiency, high-level expertise, and better availability.
Outsourcing is more cost-efficient than hiring internally. Hiring requires salary, benefits, onboarding costs, training, and more. Outsourced IT support is generally priced below the salary level of a comparable internal role – and that’s before the add-on costs associated with a new internal hire are considered. Outsourcing wins on cost.
Outsourcing IT offers access to high-level expertise. When you hire internally, you get the expertise of one person. No single person can be an expert in every area of IT. When you work with an outsourced IT provider, on the other hand, you get access to the expertise of an entire team.
Outsourcing IT provides better availability in support. Internal hires take vacations. Sometimes they aren’t available on weekends. Outsourcing IT ensures that support is always available and that there are no knowledge silos.
So, in general, nonprofits should consider outsourced IT support. But there are two scenarios when outsourcing becomes even more beneficial:
1. Nonprofits should outsource IT support when the lack of a dedicated internal resource threatens to become costly.
Many nonprofits start and grow without a dedicated IT resource. They may have someone internally who wears “IT support” as one of many hats – maybe the head of operations or the office manager. Or they may work with an IT provider on a break-fix basis (calling for occasional service when it’s needed and paying an hourly rate).
But, if they’re growing, they eventually reach a point where IT management is simply too complex and time-consuming to be handled internally without a designated team. In other words, the lack of IT has become costly.
This is when outsourcing makes sense.
The clearest indicator that your IT has become costly: Your nonprofit deals with too much downtime. Slow computers, virus-infected email accounts, misconfigured computers, and broken connections between applications are some of the red flags that the current IT solution is not able to proactively maintain the health of the network and enable staff to be focused on the mission.
2. Nonprofits should outsource IT support when they need to supplement internal capabilities.
Larger nonprofits that have strong, dedicated internal IT teams already in place may still encounter situations where outsourcing some aspects of IT support makes sense.
Outsourced IT can supplement internal IT in two ways:
It can supplement tactical support. Growth and change can increase the amount of tactical support that’s needed. For example, the implementation of a new donor outreach system may increase the level of support that’s needed. Or sheer growth could lead to an increase in tickets that the existing internal team is hard-pressed to support.
Either way, if additional tactical support is needed, outsourcing can be a cost-efficient solution. Helpdesk support and available onsite support can ensure that issues are taken care of quickly and that the internal team is able to maintain their areas of focus.
It can supplement strategic expertise. An internal team might require assistance in an area where they’re lacking strategic expertise. As mentioned, no single IT person is an expert in every IT area.
Outsourcing these types of needs is typically cost-effective in comparison to making an additional hire. And often nonprofits simply don’t have the internal expertise to be able to hire a person with the right technical qualifications for the role. In these situations, outsourcing makes sense.
Are you ready to outsource your nonprofit’s IT support?
Hopefully, these considerations have been helpful as you think through outsourcing IT support for your nonprofit.
If you’re ready to learn how an outsourced solution could benefit your nonprofit specifically, get in touch with us.
At Community IT Innovators, we’ve found that whether hiring internally or working with third-party providers, many nonprofit organizations deal with more IT issues than they should have to.
Our process is built to fix that. 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 have built our 100-percent-employee-owned business by focusing on the specific needs of our clients, ensuring that they are prepared for the future with systems that support their missions.
Technology systems are foundational to modern nonprofit work. Don’t let unoptimized systems or subpar support to hold you back.
As you consider how outsourcing can help you accomplish your mission, let’s talk.