A nonprofit begins with an idea for a helpful cause. In researching how to start a nonprofit, founders have work to do on many fronts. Of course, founders need to understand all the basics of creating charters, bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, and forming a board of directors.
Once the board establishes a nonprofit organization, the real work begins — coordinating fundraising, recruiting volunteers, hiring staff, and planning for success and sustainability.
In the busyness of how to start a nonprofit, it’s important to consider how the right technology can streamline certain operations, ensure security and prime the nonprofit for quick success. Technology builds the capacity of nonprofit boards, staff and volunteers, allowing them to serve people better and to put a positive mark on society.
The first step for startup nonprofits is learning about the types of technology they need. The second step is getting the proper knowledge and instruction on how to use it effectively. A board portal incorporates many of the technological processes that startup nonprofits need right from the start.
Creating Efficiency for Nonprofits Through Technology
The tech world offers numerous software solutions to help nonprofits work faster and more efficiently. For tasks that seem labor-intensive, seek alternative technology to replace it. Nonprofits have many duties to take care of initially, and getting some digital help lets you work smarter, not harder.
For example, nonprofits have much to gain by asking for feedback from their constituents. Online surveys are an easy way to get feedback. They’re quick and convenient. Most people don’t mind taking a few minutes to respond to help a startup nonprofit.
Another important consideration for startup nonprofits is using high-quality equipment and setting up high-speed internet. Upgraded or newer computers boot up faster and can open and save documents faster. Newer computers are less likely to crash, which saves even more time. It may be that you’re only saving five or 10 minutes a day, but over time, the time savings adds up. If you’re paying an employee, the savings equates to financial savings as well.
Getting data can make a world of difference for startup nonprofits. Data makes the connection between the nonprofit’s activities and results. Quality data helps nonprofits know how best to invest their time and energy.
Data provides information to grant-makers to help them make decisions about whether they should support a nonprofit and with how much money.
Another example of how technology creates efficiency is to add a frequently asked questions section to the nonprofit’s website. Adding such a simple section saves the board and the staff from having to answer calls to answer the same questions over and over.
Useful Types of Technology for Nonprofit Startups
Most nonprofit startups are eager to set up a website and an email account, and these are important tools. Many other electronic tools exist to enhance a nonprofit’s efforts. The key is choosing and using the best tools for the job.
A website is the “go-to place” for your board, volunteers, staff and constituents. Nonprofits can easily attach blog sites to their websites in order to share important articles and information about the cause with members, volunteers and visitors. It’s also quite easy to add a “make a donation” button to the website, where supporters can easily make donations online.
Most nonprofits set up an email account that easily leads supporters to important nonprofit contacts. Heed a word of caution here — most personal and business email accounts lack the necessary degree of security to sufficiently protect board business.
Social media is an easy and inexpensive way to get the word out about the amazing work that nonprofits are doing. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are valuable platforms for notifying the world about what your nonprofit does. Aggregators like Ping and Hootsuite allow nonprofits to post content on multiple social media platforms at one time, and it schedules the content automatically. By prioritizing your goals and maximizing your efficiency, you should be able to complete your social media postings in about 10 minutes a day.
Cloud computing is a good way to store documents securely in the cloud. Electronic platforms are also useful for electronic scheduling, ensuring security using data encryptions, connecting systems and devices through the Internet of Things (IoT). A board portal combines many technological solutions into one highly secure electronic platform where board directions can safely log in and complete many processes using one system that was designed specifically with boards in mind.
The Best Tech Investment for Nonprofit Startup Boards Is a Board Portal
For the sake of efficiency, one of the best investments nonprofit startups can make is a board portal system. BoardEffect’s board portal offers the necessary encryption and other security features to prevent unsuspecting data breaches. BoardEffect also provides board members and staff members with a secure email platform for secure messaging, which alleviates any concerns about using less-secure personal email accounts for nonprofit business.
In addition, a board portal makes it possible for board directors to log onto the platform and to share documents from any location using any electronic device including laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
One of the many useful features that BoardEffect offers is a survey tool. This is an efficient way of setting up survey questions for board director self-evaluations, board surveys and many other purposes. The platform includes unlimited document-sharing using highly secure, cloud-based technology. There’s no need to back up key files when using cloud technology, which saves even more time.
Boards can also count on BoardEffect’s platform to manage their board development processes, board meetings and annual meetings and keep everything on schedule. These processes are extremely important in supporting legal compliance and good corporate governance.
Final Tips for How to Start a Nonprofit Using the Most Effective Technology
Much of whether technology works for or against nonprofits has to do with how well they use it. Board directors and key staff members will need to have a good understanding of how the technology works and how to use the applications to get the most from them.
It’s not necessary for everyone to be completely proficient with technology platforms, but all board directors and key staff should have strong familiarity with how the technology works and know where to find customer service help for their board portal system.
Boards should strongly encourage board directors and others to use only the board portal for board communications to ensure the necessary security is in place.
Nonprofits can rely on a board portal system to take the place of multiple technology programs, all within the tight security that BoardEffect provides.