Which web technology investments are worth it?

If you’re wondering which IT investments you should make that will generate the highest return, you should think of yourself as a store manager. And then ask the following two questions: 1) How do we get customers into the door? and 2) How do we react when they’ve entered?
 
In IT terms, this means issues like:
 
·         Do we have the ability to immediately add and edit the latest program offerings on our site?
·         Can clients register and pay on our site?   Is it a very easy process they can complete in under five minutes?
·         Can we give a potential donor a way to learn about our field in an online interactive manner?
·         Do we give volunteers an online way to feel that their service is being noted?  
·         Can information submitted online get automatically integrated with a database?
·         Do we use that database to drive and track communication with our audiences?”
 
If your answer is “No” to any of these questions, you probably have found a candidate for a highly leveraged investment in your web technology. Here are three examples of projects my firm did recently that represent excellent investments in technology. 
 
Integrating your website with your Salesforce database
 
Many nonprofit websites collect data through online forms. Unfortunately, quite a few of those organizations still have to double enter this web collected data into another database. Vittana, an organization that raises money online for students in the developing world, recently completed a project that will save them valuable staff time and data entry errors. Read more.
 
More than a volunteer signup form
 
The Skees Family Foundation has developed a way to motivate volunteerism by giving them an online way to track hours and win their own grant money. Even if you are an agency and not a foundation, you may have other kinds of rewards to make volunteering for you more engaging. Read more.
 
Collaborating for buying power on database work
 
Cost is usually the biggest barrier to improving nonprofit technology. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation addressed that barrier for four local nonprofits not just by funding capacity building, but also by pooling client demand for database implementation. This is an innovative approach more nonprofits can pursue, even without the backing of a major foundation.  Read more.

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