Is it time to create your nonprofit’s budget for 2021? While we all know that your organization’s financial plan should include budgets for operations and capital, it is also important to also think of your budget as a strategic guide that can help you achieve your mission. A well-planned budget will focus on the primary goals and objectives of your organization and will drive long-term sustainability.
In today’s environment, technology should be included in the budget as a tool for accomplishing your overall mission. Many foundations now realize that technology can provide the infrastructure to help agencies transform their work in their communities. As a result, many foundations are now rolling out grants aimed at helping agencies and multi-agency collaborations adopt technology that transforms the way work is performed. For example, The Frist Foundation’s “Technology Grant Program” is designed to help agencies and multi-agency collaborations transform their work and their communities through the use of technology. From 1996 through 2017, The Frist Foundation offered technology grants to agencies to buy computers, servers, phone systems and software to help improve how agencies perform their work. Since 2017, the foundation has updated the program to focus on how agencies can build technology infrastructure to transform their work, instead of simply adding computers or replacing basic software and hardware.
In their grant application, The Frist Foundation asks the following questions:
What are the benefits of your technology project?
How many stakeholders will be affected?
What high-needs population will benefit from this project?
How will their lives be different?
Will this project build your long-term capacity to tackle similar projects in the future?
Nonprofit Technology Plan
In order to include technology in your 2021 budget, it’s important to create a nonprofit technology plan that assesses your current technology capacity, your strengths and weaknesses, and the goals you want to accomplish. Also, it is important to understand the goals your funders are trying to accomplish so you can meet their needs. For example, is one of the funder’s goals to fund projects that build a data-driven culture in the community? What can you do to strengthen the data culture in your organization?
Once you have assessed your current technology situation, you can determine actionable steps for moving forward. For example, let’s say your goal is to increase the number of students in your community who obtain a high school degree and enroll in college. What capability do you currently have to track and report on these students? Is there something you are missing? For example, do you lack the ability to track and report on students over time (longitudinally)? Do you have access to real-time data and insights regarding these students so you can pivot your services as necessary? As you continue to assess your strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to better understand what your organization needs in order to build your long-term capacity for helping more students to obtain a high school degree and enroll in college. In turn, this will help you build a better proposal in order to secure funding for your technology project.
Technology Cost per Client
Another way to obtain funding for new technology is including the cost per client to purchase the new technology as part of your program grant. For example, if you serve 1,600 high school students per year, and your outcomes tracking software costs $16,000 per year, the annual cost per client is $10. You can create a much stronger argument for needing the technology grant if you can explain that it only costs $10 per client in order to ensure you have the resources you need to best serve each client.
SureImpact provides the only solution specifically designed for the non-profit sector to capture invaluable insights that can be used to enhance your organization’s delivery of mission-critical services, engage your communities, attract new sources of funding, and increase trust among your constituents. We are passionate about helping social sector organizations and would be happy to meet with you to discuss your organization’s technology plan. Contact us today to learn more. Also, check out our on-demand webinar “Expand Your Impact – Turn Data Into Dollars.”