For decades, Ed Pope has provided end-to-end technology solutions for business of all sizes. His company, DigitalGenetix, based in San Antonio, also works with nonprofits. He sees that their greatest need is provide strategy, good people and IT training so that organizations can use technology that fulfills their mission. He notes that this includes practices, documentation and policies that help when you have staff turnover.
Don’t go it alone
Another strong practice for nonprofits, Pope says, is to join a group for nonprofits to keep on top of trends, information and news about tools that organizations need. He recommends TechSoup, and TechRepublic. These are online and have lots of resources at lower cost or free for nonprofits.
Have an IT plan
Another tip for nonprofits is to have a strategic plan for technology for the next 24-36 months. Just like any area of operations, understanding where you want to be in the future means you need the right tools, Pope says. “Too often, we come in and do assessments and find out someone didn’t understand the best technology to help them accomplish their mission.”
What should a nonprofit leader and board do when they are updating technology?
When updating or purchasing new systems, Pope recommends starting with an IT assessment and document what you have. His organization uses a process map (available if you ask) that lays out not only the technology, but the staff, training and how each help accomplish the mission.
“Evaluate your personnel, then look at training and ongoing support they need,” he says. “We are currently talking about a new website and I am asking, “Who is going to update it, what approvals are needed, what is the plan if that person is gone, and so on.”
Pope adds, “Once you map these out, then you start picking tools. As things change within the organization a strategy also includes a change management plan that includes the technology piece. This gives you a map to plug and play. This helps with getting rid of waste and saves hurt feelings. It eliminates a lot of that noise as well.”
Budgeting for technology
Pope works with nonprofits to discover their ‘cost to serve.’ He explained this, “We first about how much money they spend on providing programs, to facilitate the ministry – or mission. We also talk about policy and compliance. Technology is an investment that can usually help lower the cost to serve.”
Some do not like the idea of describing it as a number, he said, but we know it is an investment and technology enhances what you already do and help you grow.
Security and data integrity
Nonprofits headlines have taught us to pay attention to privacy rules and use of credit cards, Ed reminds us. Nonprofits must keep up with compliance issues and this is where being part of an association is important. “I try to tell every organization that being part of an association keeps you in tune with the laws,” Pope said.
“When the pandemic happened, we had to go back and help nonprofits find out what policies were in place and reshape them for staff working from home, when information is being transmitted from servers to a home computer.” He said leaders need a fluid process and good communication with their industry, legal team, the board and your managed service provider (MSP) now when see so much change.”
About Edwin Pope
Edwin Pope is an IT executive with 20+ years of experience in IT, marketing, sales, digital solutions and supplychain. He is CEO of DigitalGenetix provides infrastructure, training, software applications, including customization. They help evaluate budgets and help build a platforms. He says: “We give a wholistic view of IT and if we can’t do it, we give recommendations on companies you can look for.”
A native of San Antonio, he graduated from St. Phillips’ College, Southwestern Christian University and Vanderbilt. He sits on the board for Social Venture Partners San Antonio and Board of Advisors for the Global Chamber San Antonio.