How automation can support nonprofits’ missions

Fingers typing on laptop keyboard
Fingers typing on laptop keyboard

How automation can support nonprofits’ missions

Panelists highlight the importance of assessing need before investing in technology
December 2, 2019

There are many ways nonprofits can improve their use of technology to support their work, but limited budgets often remain a challenge for accessing those solutions. Automation is one approach that may help such organizations save money in the long run. To learn more, NYN Media reached out to panelists at its Nonprofit TechCon  that will be held on Thursday.

But before jumping to investing in such technology, it’s important to look at the benefits it’ll bring. “It’s definitely, you know, making sure you have the right information upfront about what the cost might be, but in order to determine what that cost might be, you need to be thinking about what are the areas you think need improvement, like an initial assessment of your organization,” said Colleen Duffy, managing director of nonprofit and education advisory at BDO. “Because a lot of times people may things can be better but they’re not exactly sure how.”

Organizations can use this automation in different ways. MercyFirst just began piloting the use of robotic process automation to allow caseworkers to upload health data once instead of several times. “It reduces the amount of time that their spending actually entering data,” said Besa Bauta, chief data officer at MercyFirst. Nonprofits have also often used automation to support everything from recruitment to onboarding, said Shereen Santalesa, vice president of human resources at Riseboro Community Partnership. The Shine Foundation has done so in its volunteer recruitment process, for example.

Santalesa still cautioned nonprofits interested in investing in heavily in automation. “It’s important from an operational position to keep an eye on automation sprawl. … You can go an automate everything, and add this and add that system, and it becomes a little monster you’ve created.”

To learn more about how technology impacts nonprofits – from choosing in-house or outsourced IT staff to supporting cybersecurity – attend NYN Media’s TechCon event on Dec. 5.

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.