While retail, healthcare, finance, and other industries in the private sector have made striking technological advancements over the last few years, the nonprofit sector continues to lag, creating a backlog of work and constraining the scope of impact that organisations can make. The nonprofit sector is also struggling to meet growing needs for services as the gap between demand and the ability to meet demand has continued to widen significantly throughout the pandemic.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for this sector to modernise and adopt new technological advancements to maximise opportunity and serve more people. Technology and data can allow nonprofits and public-sector organisations to scale quickly and can help drive more social impact. The social good sector is at a pivotal moment where digital transformation is an absolute necessity in order to take the next steps forward when it comes to serving communities and causes around the world. Providing nonprofits and public-sector agencies with the case management tools they need will help further their missions.

Why the sector is slower to adopt technology

As with all sectors, social good organisations struggled in multiple ways during and after the onset of the pandemic. For nonprofits, meeting donor and funder requirements, accommodating for staffing challenges, and continuing to make an impact in the communities they serve were areas of concern. And the long-held belief of many nonprofit organisations and funders – that investing in programs is more impactful than operational investments – has contributed to this struggle.

As the world around us grows increasingly digital each day, the hesitation to support operations is creating an increasingly severe obstacle for both nonprofit organisations and public-sector agencies when it comes to progress. Most importantly, lack of investment in operational technology not only slows down internal processes, but it also limits the ability of these organisations to make a significant impact in the communities they serve.

For many years, private-sector enterprises have relied on technology and software to speed up processes and make more informed business decisions. A major bank using outdated pen and paper to track donations, trends, and more is unthinkable, which begs the question: Why are nonprofit organisations still using these practices? The private sector spent 22.5% of its revenue on technology in 2019 alone, an average of four times more than the social sector. Additionally, KPMG and Harvey Nash reported that half of organisations from their CIO survey say the pandemic permanently accelerated digital transformation efforts as well as the adoption of emerging technologies.

In the past, nonprofits have often been disincentivised to invest in infrastructure and technology because key performance ratings rewarded nonprofits that have had low administrative costs.

However, using outdated practices only widens the growing gap between the need for human services and the capacity nonprofit organisations must have meet these needs. Many communities are struggling with members’ most critical needs like food insecurity, unemployment, healthcare, and education access, which sparked a wave of relief efforts at the government level, incentivised individual donors to increase donations, and resulted in funders making grant requirements more flexible in recent years. It is more important than ever for nonprofit organisations to digitally track their impact and services to identify areas of improvement.

How technology can help nonprofits deliver impact

Technology, by design, makes things easier overall, allowing organisations to maximise their impact, strengthen relief efforts, and reduce the level of manual effort needed. Smart, intuitive technology can increase efficiency and give teams time back to strengthen relief efforts and serve more people.

Case management software allows for nonprofits and public-sector agencies to improve service delivery, adapt to changes in programs, scale services and see immediate results of those efforts. By implementing a network-based solution, social good organisations can better coordinate and connect care for the individuals and communities they serve. Having the data available to show impact helps address the challenge of justifying administrative costs with tangible results.

For example, implementing case management software lets organisations realise an average of 35% reduction in time spent on data capture, a 40% reduction in time spent managing service delivery, and a 40% to 75% reduction in time spent on reporting and analysis. It is crucial for nonprofits and public-sector agencies to adopt a forward-thinking outlook and make technology and data central to their organisations and digitally track their impact.

Access to technology can also give organisations insight into industry trends and donor patterns, helping them remain flexible in preparing for the future by analysing trends and using the data to inform decisions and achieve success.

The future of social good rests on technology that can provide organisations with the tools to make it faster and easier than ever to deliver lasting change in their communities. While making investments in technology and switching to automated processes may be unknown territory for some nonprofits, the benefits strongly outweigh the costs, and taking the leap now will allow future success for years to come. By leveraging technology to digitally transform how nonprofits and public-sector agencies do what they do, barriers will be broken down and the impact of their work will be amplified to extraordinary levels.

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Julian Flint is the VP & Regional Manager, Australia/Asia Pacific of Bonterra