Non-profits should adopt technology in order to improve their functioning and transparency
The world stands at the cusp of robust digital consumption, establishing the significance of technological expansion as never before. Irrespective of the industry, technology these days is at the core of the evolution of a company, be it a profit or a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO). Technology and innovation help consumer brands reach stakeholders and build a long-lasting relationship. NPOs require to create awareness and leverage technology to engage with possible contributors. And like any other industry, achieve operational efficiency and effectiveness. While businesses driven by profit exploit technology to obtain optimum results, NPOs stay at the receiving end as they are not well-versed at harnessing the benefits of technology, owing to various constraints like lack of funds, shortage of manpower and the lack of technological know-how and so on. According to a survey conducted among 725 philanthropic professionals across the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, it was reported that about 93 per cent of professionals lacked the expertise required to adopt new technologies.
As the Novel Coronavirus raged last year, its devastating shocks were felt by the business sector and even NPOs could not escape the clutches of the economic downturn induced by the pandemic. A lot of NPOs collapsed last year, along with their dreams. The COVID-19 menace compounded the challenge for philanthropic organisations who were already struggling to keep pace with technology. The Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University conducted a survey among 50 leaders from various NPOs located across India and, a majority of them admitted that they had been procrastinating on digital technology adoption in their operations and the sudden lockdown caught them by surprise as they were completely unprepared to handle the crisis.
It would be in the best interest of NPOs to mutate their DNA and adapt a professional mindset when it comes to the integration of technology. As charitable organisations are at more of a disadvantage than profit making businesses, adopting technology can make their operations more efficient and cost-effective as technological intervention promotes smart work. It prioritises work according to the time, budget, the workforce and schedule. With the help of automation, work gets organised efficiently, thus reducing the unnecessary manual process, saving time, labour and operational costs and eventually increasing productivity.
NPOs working on a trust model, must adopt technology to ensure transparency in their functioning. This will play a significant role in establishing and maintaining the faith of stakeholders, volunteers, partners and employees. Here, automation plays an instrumental role in improving transparency. Further, to attract donors charitable entities need to increase their visibility or presence and, this is where technology comes to their rescue, helping them expand their reach. However, intense digital penetration draws attention to another area of growing concern — cybersecurity. In day-to-day working, personal and business-related information colludes with other data sets, thus imposing a obligation on these organisations to protect their data. NPOs need a digital policy road map. They need to know how to protect sensitive data from theft and breach and secure it. It is also essential for NPOs to safeguard their assets with the help of technology that frees them from any unwarranted legal liability. While investigating cyber attacks, administration and Information Technology leaders must have extensive knowledge of related laws and full understanding of the obligations associated with it, before employing software or the technique. The NPOs need to recruit technically-competent volunteers and staff. They also need to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical employees. In a nutshell, technology plays the role of a scorer increasing an NPO’s efficacy and transparency.
(The writer is founder and president of a non-profit, The Programming Foundation. The views expressed are personal.)