Our foundation needs a technology plan too?

by Akilah Massey | May 02, 2012
Originally posted on PhilanthroFiles, the Exponent Philanthropy blog.

Some people are natural planners. They’re the ones that never have to search for flashlight batteries when a big storm hits. They have well-stocked emergency kits and well-rehearsed household disaster plans.

On the other end of the spectrum are those that always end up searching for a candle or the extra batteries (in the dark) because they haven’t tested the emergency flashlight in years.

Unlike individuals, all healthy organizations should fall on the planner-heavy side of the spectrum. Planning for the future can help your operations run smoothly and make sure that everyone is on the same page. It almost always saves time and money.

While at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco last month, I had a chance to think about how and why Exponent Philanthropy members might plan for their technology needs. Depending on your foundation, this might mean deciding when to upgrade your computers, creating a website or blog, or making sure that staff and trustees are appropriately trained on the technology tools that your foundation uses.

In talking to several organizations about how they’ve gone about their planning work, one thing is clear. We are all using a wide range of technologies — from basic computers to accounting software to social media such as Twitter. Incorporating technology into an organization is done best by starting with a plan.

A technology plan can help you:

  • Focus — There are so many technology options available. Take time to assess them and decide which tools will help you achieve your foundation’s goals.

  • Set priorities — What do you need to do now? And what can be saved for later?

  • Budget — As you prioritize, you can budget for the future and spread out technology-related costs over time.

  • Share information with staff and trustees — Gaining consensus from stakeholders can be made easier by going through a planning process. Furthermore, making time for adequate training can help everyone in your foundation succeed in working together with new tools at hand.

Planning for your technology needs isn’t about new types of technology as much as it is about making sure your foundation is doing everything it can to reach its mission effectively. Technology planning is just one essential step you should consider using to get there.

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