NFPs Urged to Invest More in IT
8 February 2018 at 8:23 am
A major new survey has found not for profits are significantly underinvesting in IT, with almost half of organisations reporting their information and service systems do not work well for them.
The IT in The Not-For-Profit Sector Report for 2018 was released in Canberra on Wednesday by Australian and New Zealand not-for-profit technology leaders Infoxchange, Connecting Up and TechSoup NZ.
The report said the NFP sector was increasingly under pressure “to do more with less”, since governments were looking for ways to reduce spending, traditional funding sources were shifting and donors increasingly wanted to see the impact of their investment.
It included a survey of 385 NFPs, which asked if an organisation’s information and service delivery systems worked well for staff and management, with 46 per cent disagreeing.
The disability services sector in particular reported struggling with IT, as 54 per cent disagreed that their information and service systems worked well.
The report noted that the disability services sector had underinvested in IT.
“It is surprising that only 46 per cent of organisations providing services in the disability sector feel their systems work well for them considering the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” the report said.
“Australian non-profits who listed their primary sector as disability also spend less on technology than the average non-profit – investing $3,496/FTE [full-time equivalent] each year compared to the average of $4,776.
“[This indicates] challenges may lie ahead for many of these organisations given the importance of good technology systems to provide efficient services within the NDIS environment.”
But the report also noted that the NFP sector as a whole had historically underinvested in digital technologies, with spending usually directed more towards frontline service delivery.
“Without the right technology to drive supporter engagement, enable staff to deliver services efficiently, measure client and community outcomes and communicate success in a professional manner, organisations will be unable to compete,” the report warned.
“Organisations that use digital technologies effectively are better placed to respond in a challenging environment.
“They have better control over their investment and funding sources, better infrastructure that enables staff to be productive in changing conditions and an established online presence that maintains continuity in client and supporter engagement.”
NFPs without an IT plan were found to be four times more likely to report their systems were incapable of capturing client information, while the biggest challenges facing NFPs included IT budgets, technical resources and internal IT capacity.
Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs, said NFPs increasingly needed to invest in technology for staff to efficiently deliver their services.
“Having good information systems to enable service delivery and outcome measurement is still a challenge for many. This year’s survey shows that having an IT plan for the future is the first step in making sustained improvements,” Spriggs said.
“This aligns with our work in the disability sector where the demand to update information systems is high. Survey results show that most disability service providers have not yet made this transition, and are therefore under stress, as reflected in The State of The Disability Sector Report for 2017.”
Connecting Up CEO Anne Gawen, added that the survey revealed some worrying trends that the NFP sector needed to immediately address.
“As an organisation with a mission to support the IT needs of other Australian not for profits, Connecting Up is concerned for those hundreds of organisations who are today revealed as struggling to keep up with technology,” Gawen said.
“That this struggle appears to be compounded by a comparatively low investment in their IT is an issue that must be addressed urgently, especially for those organisations working within the NDIS who need good technology more than ever.
“I strongly urge those organisations to reach out for the help they need and to invest in bringing their systems up to the standard required to provide the vital services they provide for millions of Australians.”
The report concluded that the top technology challenges for NFPs related to resources regarding funding, knowledge and capability.
“[The] main priorities are to improve websites and implement new client information management systems,” the report said.
“This is followed by making better use of social media to engage with stakeholders, move to the cloud, upgrading infrastructure and develop an IT plan.”