In a technology planning workshop I recently led, a skeptic raised her hand. “Why bother going through this planning process,” she asked, “when we have so little time and money for technology improvements?”
“That,” I told her, “is precisely why you need a technology plan.”
A plan lets you know where you are going. It reminds you what you are not going to do right now, and helps you make the most of scarce resources by focusing on what’s most critical.
For one nonprofit I worked with, moving to the Cloud turned out to be more critical than they ever imagined it would be. Salem WEST provides critical services to a small community in Minnesota, including a soup kitchen, donated household goods, and a thrift store. A key recommendation in its 2014 technology plan was to invest in online file storage to create shared access among its three locations. The organization completed its plan, and in early 2017 went on to implement a web-based system to manage program data.
“On March 1, 2017, by an act of arson against our neighbor, Salem WEST burned to the ground,” Outreach Director Greg Meyer told me. “We lost everything. We literally were not able to save a thing. I can tell you right now that this ‘Cloud’ that I never put much stock into proved to be our salvation.”
Salem WEST had just installed new computers and begun to use a new database, he said. The fire destroyed everything, but within 24 hours, a local service provider had recovered all data and loaded it onto his laptop.
“We were back in business,” Meyer said.
Thanks to planning and acting on their priorities, Salem WEST was able to survive a disaster with their files and data intact, and minimize disruption to their services. Is your nonprofit similarly prepared? From security breaches to fires to disgruntled employees leaving with passwords to social media accounts and databases, there are any number of catastrophes that could befall your organization.
We’re working on research to help you prepare and prioritize that we hope to make available next month. Until then, as our research reveals horror stories—and success stories like Salem WEST—I wanted to encourage you to make sure that you’re one of the latter. I hope you never need a disaster plan, but if you do, I want you to be ready to implement it.
We’re also on the verge of releasing some new research into using text messaging for program delivery and a workbook to help your organization create security and bring-your-own-device policies. We’ve got a lot of launches planned for the next few months and are excited to share our work with you.
PS Speaking of security and disaster planning, in June we’re offering a training called “Raising Your Online Security IQ.” Can you detect a phishing scam or a clever attempt at social engineering? How strong are your passwords? Do you know how to keep people from spying on your phone? This training, designed and led by Joshua Peskay of RoundTable Technology, will help you spot threats and teach you how to reduce the risk and protect your data. It runs from 1 to 2:30 PM on Thursday, June15. Learn more or register now.