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Digital technology in the Not-For-Profit sector

Technology plays a major role in today's world, especially in not-for-profits — it enhances efficiency, it improves communication and outreach, it facilitates data management and analysis and creates more impact in serving their communities. Recently I spoke with David Spriggs, CEO of Infoxchange, to talk all things tech and NFPs. David’s organisation creates a helpful report, Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector, and she shared some of his top insights on current trends and opportunities for not-for-profits. If you’re curious, let’s now dive in!

Adopting AI Responsibly

One of the biggest findings from Infoxchange's State of Digital Technology report was the doubling of AI use in not-for-profits over the past year. David noted that almost all organisations plan to use generative AI in the coming 12 months. However, guidelines must be developed for staff on appropriate use cases and handling sensitive data.

Generative AI shows potential for fundraising and marketing copy generation but caution is must. Not-for-profits are encouraged to educate themselves on AI and provide guardrails to safely experiment with new tools.

As one of my key takeaways, it is important to have tried-and-tested generative AI tools available for staff within clear guidelines on usage. A strict "no AI" policy won't work given publicly available tools, but education and security can empower safe exploration of opportunities.

Improving Cybersecurity Practices

Despite high-profile data breaches, cybersecurity progress remains limited across the not-for-profit sector. It's surprising to find that multi factor authentication and regular staff training on security basics are not widely implemented. 

As nonprofits hold sensitive client data, this exposure is concerning. David recommends starting with simple steps like enabling multi factor authentication, discussing security regularly with boards, and utilising free resources available on the Digital Transformation Hub. The hub provides valuable training, templates, and expert advice to strengthen our security foundations.

Leveraging Data for Impact

According to the State of Digital Technology report, only a small portion of not-for-profits understand the impact of their services or use data for decision-making. While data is collected to meet funder requirements, it isn't well utilised internally.

David sees opportunity in cross-organisational collaborations where not-for-profits of similar missions jointly analyse insights. Involving those with lived experience ensures data helps communities by surfacing early intervention opportunities. Not-for-profits possess valuable information and can maximise impact by learning to leverage their data assets for strategic planning and demonstration of outcomes.

Building Digital Skills and Confidence

Having a low confidence and knowledge in technology hinders staff and volunteer participation. The pandemic has become an eye-opener since we mostly work in remote set-up and accelerated tech adoption in not-for-profits but skills require ongoing attention. Infoxchange provides cost-free training materials to aid the not-for-profit sector in their digital evolution.

Reflecting on our conversation, it's evident that technology is a backbone of success in the not-for-profit sector. As we look to the future, having some practical guidance from the tools provided by Infoxchange, not-for-profits can strengthen their impact through responsible technology adoption and building digital skills and confidence are key areas for growth and development. 

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