What are the Opportunities for Charities and Not-for-Profits in 2017 – and Why is Technology Important?
But there are other drivers at work, too – so we’ve done some research to understand where experts in this sector believe progress is afoot in the coming year, and to show how much of this will boil down in one way or another to technology.
Cloud adopters point the way to driving down costs
One word looms large in charity IT in 2017: cloud!
In a recent poll of charity CFOs, some 64% of respondents said cloud use can cut operational costs by up to 20%. Indeed, some 15% of charities are already using the cloud for the kind of activities that can deliver the savings the CFOs foretell.
That said, many charities and not-for-profits, although cloud converts, have yet to develop their cloud use beyond auxiliary tasks like email – an opportunity that beckons urgently in 2017.
Clever capacity planning will accelerate collaboration
Many charities, as this recent Third Force News piece observes, are likely to consider merging their operations in the near future, to attain greater collaborative efficiencies.
The additional computing capacity needs that will arise as a result of merging two platforms, two user populations, and two piles of organisational data play right into the cloud’s strengths, of course – but it’s not all quite as plain-sailing as that.
The reason for this is that the cloud is a pay-per-use platform, so capacity where and when it’s not really needed can quickly become a drain on financial resources.
The solution is to deploy advanced data analytics within the cloud platform, as part of an automatic scaling solution. This enables charities and not-for-profits to identify capacity trends in advance of specific events, and proactively deliver capacity to whichever of the organisation’s service or services require it, at whatever point in time.
This intelligent flexibility will help charities’ and not-for-profits’ cloud platforms to deliver the cost benefits envisaged in the coming year.
Charity social media: better use driven by better tech
The CharityComms network has commented that progress in social media is now a must for charities.
But in the past, managing the onboarding and offboarding of highly transient volunteer user populations, to enable them to interact through personal hardware and devices with organisational apps like social media, and its associated data, has proven extremely complex and costly to manage – effectively acting as a brake on the whole process.
In 2017, however, charities and not-for-profits will see this frustration start to dissolve, as cloud solutions start to deliver centralised consoles that enable a user’s access to multiple apps, systems and data sources to be easily controlled by even the smallest of IT teams, from one single user login.
This is not only a boost for organisational social media app use, of course – it potentially makes interaction with every part of the organisation’s IT infrastructure easier, slicker, more productive, and above all more economical.
Taming the digital data deluge
In the next ten years, digital channels will be responsible for 20% of charities’ fundraising income, as opposed to 7% today.
In the wake of that uplift, the digital data that charities and not-for-profits will have to manage will multiply tremendously, and the evidence (at least if this BizTech article, from the US, is to be believed) is that some 57% of not-for-profits already struggle with this.
But the cloud is a powerful data management and security tool too, enabling the charities and not-for-profits of 2017 both to shift data and archives to the cloud, (thus enhancing network performance), and to protect them there, using air-gapped security that can stop data breaches in their tracks.
The deluge may be coming, but there are lifejackets in the cloud!
The Big Issue(s): other charity imperatives in 2017
Of course, IT isn’t the only opportunity facing charities and not-for-profits in the near future.
But even the wider imperatives converge, at some point, on technology, as so many business processes are now managed using technology tools, and underpinned by a technology platform of one kind or another.
The question is, are vendors and partners delivering the very specific arrangements – volunteer-friendly solutions, trials and workshops without prohibitive upfront fees, comprehensive support – that charities and not-for-profits will need to make the available technology fulfil its potential in 2017?
Or are we set for another “horrible year”?