Nonprofits have dual challenges — the mission side and the business side. A solid back-office supports the latter and enables the former.
Although non-profit organizations (NPOs) have many of the same concerns as businesses in terms of project planning and cash flow, they’re very different animals in terms of income stream and goals. But there’s one area where NPOs should follow business trends in order to serve those goals better: the back office.
A new nonprofit era
“Like many businesses, not-for-profits are entering a new era ruled by fresh, actionable data,” notes Rob Gethen Smith, global head of the Not for Profit Centre of Excellence at Unit4, a software company delivering enterprise software applications to NPOs and other services organizations. “The ability to use technology to gain insights into consumer behavior enables them to attract more funding and optimize program delivery.”
An example of how Unit4’s back-office technological solutions can help NPOs maximize their resources is Save the Children. The organization had been using a struggling decades-old legacy system prone to crashes and lacking modern collaboration tools. After selecting Unit4 to update their back-office, Save the Children U.S. can now roll out information across all locations in real-time and can accurately forecast their financials.
Gethen Smith warns that NPOs must seek technology partners that understand their unique needs. “A good technology partner must be the ‘right fit,’” he says. “A solution adapted from commercial business software often comes with higher cost of ownership. NPOs work in a world of constant change. For a project-driven not-for-profit, efficiency means streamlining core organizational processes, like post-award grants management, managerial reporting and project reporting.”
For Gethen Smith and Unit4, it’s all about helping organizations like Save the Children focus resources on reaching their goals and serving their communities. “Strong back-office technology is the linchpin of any strategy to help NPOs drive toward mission objectives.”