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Effective Use of ICT Critical for Australian NFPs

21 May 2007 at 3:26 pm
Staff Reporter
Not for Profit IT services business, Energetica says effective use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by NGOs in Australia is critical for their future development.

Staff Reporter | 21 May 2007 at 3:26 pm


Effective Use of ICT Critical for Australian NFPs
21 May 2007 at 3:26 pm

Not for Profit IT services business, Energetica says effective use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by NGOs in Australia is critical for their future development.

Energetica is a member of a consortium that authored a report into ICT matters in the NFP sector with recommendations including the establishment of a National Not for Profit ICT Coalition that would support the building of ICT capacity in the NGO sector.

The lead organisation on the project was Community Information Strategies Australia (CISA) the peak community information organisation in South Australia, providing community information related strategies and information management and the project was funded federally by DCITA.

The recommendations were developed by surveying over 900 NGOs, interviewing a number of key people and running several forums in the consultation process.

Director of Energetica, Lisa Harvey believes that effective use of ICTs by NGOs in Australia is crucial to the work that these organisations do.

Harvey says increasing pressures from funding bodies, shortages of resources and growing demand for social services means that the innovations and efficiencies that ICTs can deliver are more important than ever.

She says supporting NFP organisations in approaching IT strategically and increasing their skills and access to technology is an important role of the new body.

Harvey was also a judge in the inaugural "Community ICT Awards", held in conjunction with the CISA Connecting Up Conference.

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, announced her response to the recommendations at the ConnectingUp Conference including the adoption of a networked model called the ‘Third Sector Expansion program’, or ‘3STEP’. The primary goal of the model is to increase the ICT capacity of the third sector in Australia.

Senator Coonan said the report contained positive signs that the Not for Profit sector is increasingly taking advantage of what the online world has to offer.

For example, a survey in the report found that 81 per cent of NFPs described their organisations as being average or higher adopters of technology.

The top online activities for these organisations included emailing, online banking, researching and buying goods and services.

However, the survey also found that smaller nonprofits had lower levels of connectivity and use of ICT technologies.

Senator Coonan says this shows that there is still work to be done to extend the transformative power of ICT to all those who can use it. From the reports findings, and a broader analysis of the issues, it is clear that there are many cross-jurisdictional implications.

For this reason Senator Coonan says she has put the issue of ICT adoption by the NFP sector on the agenda for the next Online and Communications Council of State and Federal members meeting on 29 June 2007.

She says raising the issue to this level recognises the collaboration that exists between the charitable sector and governments at all levels.

Lisa Harvey concludes that the recommended model can have a powerful impact on the Not for Profit sector and the communities it serves.

She says this will create direct improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery to Australian society, with particular advantages in the community services, health, education, employment services sectors and in rural and regional areas.

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