Nonprofits: How to Overcome This Common Weakness
One of the things I love about being involved in the community is that it gives me the chance to make a difference. I have had the privilege of getting to know some truly amazing individuals who go above and beyond to serve those in need. Donating my time to various local charities and nonprofit organizations in the capacity of a volunteer and also having served on some boards of directors has been invaluable. Through my experience in this unique community, I have learned a lot about the inner workings of how a nonprofit organization is run.
A shocking discovery that I made was how grossly overlooked the technology infrastructure is at some of these organizations. I once learned of a situation in which an organization was undergoing a change of management personnel. During this transition, unfortunately, some of the staff was dismissed from working there. One particular employee did not receive the news well and proceeded to delete all financial documents related to that organization. To make matters worse, the organization was undergoing its annual internal audit at the time and there weren’t any backup files to restore the deleted documents. It really seemed like a horror story straight out of a headline that you read on the news about these big corporations that can easily recuperate from something like this. But the harsh reality is that it happens at all levels, and probably more so to small nonprofits that can’t bounce back so easily.
The organization had no option but to hire an information technology specialist to help them try to salvage any pertinent information or documents. It goes without saying that the organization was under a lot of stress during that time but thankfully, was able to make it through. That situation made me think about all of the nonprofits out there that probably don’t have a procedure in place in case of a disaster like this. It is understandable that budgets are tight and technology may not be seen as something essential to running a nonprofit. However, in order to continue carrying out their mission, an organization must be mindful about the “business side” of running their nonprofit. To protect the nonprofit’s sensitive information that can range from their financials, donor lists, board member information, client information, etc. it is imperative that these organizations take some steps to safeguard against the potential loss, deletion, or even theft of such critical information.
At the very minimum:
- Have a Secured Network
- Establish Policies that Allow for Smooth Employee Transitions
- Establish a Procedure to Back-Up Critical Data and Information
These steps will help any nonprofit organization in their process to becoming cyber-ready. Once these are covered, and when the organization is ready to grow, the appropriate technology upgrades should be made as well. Speak to your IT professional about what will be necessary to support your growing nonprofit.