16 Nov 5 IT & Security Considerations for Non-Profit Organizations
Non-profit organizations sometimes think of themselves as distinct from their profit-driven counterparts. And, in many ways, a humanitarian focused initiative is a vastly different organization than a profit-driven business, with distinct considerations and needs.
One way that the two are similar, however, is the growing need to implement technology-based business solutions that drive efficiency while keeping sensitive data safe from those that would exploit the trust placed in them by their customers or beneficiaries.
Of course, with an inherent need to do more with less, non-profits do have some unique challenges when it comes to finding the best mix of IT resources and security protocols.
Here are five considerations faced by nonprofits when considering their IT and cybersecurity needs:
1. Limited Resources
By definition, nonprofit organizations must place particular focus on maximizing their impact while keeping operating expenses in check. This can often result in technology investments taking a backseat to other priorities. In today’s world, however, this is a risky strategy – potentially leaving an organization lagging in terms of its perceived credibility, or worse, woefully unprotected from cybersecurity attacks.
The key is for nonprofit leadership teams to prioritize a technology strategy that focuses on creating operational efficiencies while strengthening cyber defenses. Incorporating both goals into the development of a comprehensive IT strategy will allow them to realize allocated revenue as investment in growth rather than an unavoidable expense.
2. Assessing Wide Range of Tech Platforms & Tools
As the nonprofit sector has proliferated to address global concerns, disparate local community needs and niche causes, organizations continue to seek out tools and platforms that will provide them even the slightest advantages in achieving their lofty missions.
From engaging online fundraising efforts and marketing platforms that deliver their message to discreet communities of potential donors, to innovative volunteer management software that allow new levels of insight and reporting, the options available to today’s nonprofit are only continuing to grow. And yet, nonprofits rarley employee dedicated IT experts, whose job it is to select, implement and monitor their myriad IT options.
To remain efficient, nonprofits need to understand the plusses and minuses of the technology options available to them and the security considerations/tradeoffs of each.
3. Confidentiality of Donor Information
Donor confidentiality and data security remain central to a nonprofit organization’s success. Donors must be able to trust that their personal information will be used responsibly and that it will be kept safe from unauthorized access. And, with larger numbers of donors interacting with nonprofits online, there is a growing need to store and track of this data securely.
Nonprofits must ensure that donors understand how their personal information will be used and what steps an organization has in place to safeguard it. This includes encrypting data across the donation process, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to it at any point, and regularly monitoring for unauthorized access. Only by taking these kinds of precautions can they maintain the trust necessary to illicit donations that drive the nonprofit model.
4. Educating Staff and Volunteers
Even among small organizations, cybersecurity risks are on the rise. Like any business, nonprofits must take steps to educate staff and volunteers on how to spot and avoid these threats. This includes understanding how to spot frauds, phishing attacks, and other threats. By taking the time to train, test, and educate employees and volunteers, nonprofits can help to protect themselves from the most common attack vectors. In addition, nonprofits should have a comprehensive cybersecurity policy in place that covers all staff and volunteers. This policy should outline the procedures for reporting and responding to potential threats
5. Business Continuity Planning
Nonprofits are increasingly the targets of cyberattacks and other nefarious efforts to obtain valuable and monetizable data. As a result, it is essential that they have a business continuity plan in place. This plan should include backup systems and procedures for restoring access to critical data and applications.
The first step is to identify which data and applications are critical to the organization’s business model. These may include financial records, customer databases, or website content. The next step is to develop a plan for backing up and restoring this important data. This may involve maintaining duplicate data sets in separate locations or using cloud-based backup services. The key is to ensure that the organization can continue to function even if its primary systems are compromised or knocked offline.
Altourage and Nonprofit Organizations.
At Altourage, we work with companies and organizations in many ‘high-trust’ sectors, but we have always had a special place in our hearts for our nonprofit clients. That is why we have developed specific plans with their unique needs in mind
Whether it is software selection, equipment procurement, or industry-appropriate cybersecurity, our nonprofit team knows how to balance great service with value. All with the goal of empowering you in your pursuit of your mission.
Learn more about Altourage’s solutions for Nonprofits: https://altourage.com/nonprofit/