Used effectively, information technology can have tremendous positive impact on a nonprofit organization, helping it advance its mission by streamlining and improving business processes and service delivery. Poorly chosen or implemented, however, technology can be become a distraction, impeding progress toward an agency's goals.
We believe there are many components to the effective use of technology including developing a comprehensive technology plan, purchasing and implementing appropriate hardware and software, providing thorough and ongoing staff training, and building maintenance and replacement schedules into the agency's general operating budget.
The Foundation will consider requests for programs that have an information technology component, or for essential agency-wide information technology upgrades, provided the request addresses the following set of questions:
- Does your organization have a board-approved technology plan that includes ongoing training, maintenance and replacement costs? How was it developed and how often is it updated?
- Do you budget for ongoing information technology expenses annually? What have you budgeted this year? Next year (if applicable)?
- Briefly summarize your experiences in implementing information technology programs in the past.
- Who manages your information technology and to whom does this individual report?
- How will the proposed technology enhancement further your mission?
- Is the proposed enhancement being driven by external mandates?
- Explain your rationale in seeking outside foundation support for this program, rather than funding it through your information technology budget.
- What internal or external resources did you consult to determine the lowest and best budget for this program? How many comparable quotes did you obtain?
- Does your project budget include detailed line items for hardware and software costs, based on these quotes?
- Have you carefully analyzed whether or not the benefits derived from this program will justify the costs. Can the benefits be measured? Explain.
- How will your staff be trained to use this technology when it is implemented? How will ongoing training needs be addressed?
- What will it cost to maintain this technology after it is implemented? How will your organization absorb those costs?