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Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
Today’s world is an IT world, and nonprofits that do not recognize and accept the inevitability of this fact may find themselves fading into the background of the public’s consciousness. IT provides nonprofits with a host of tools for building capacity, thereby exponentially increasing the potential for mission fulfillment. However, Gordon (1998) notes the existence of a wide gap between available IT capabilities and nonprofits’ current usage, and he suggests that bridging that gap will improve capacity building. For example, of 165 nonprofits examined in October 2015, only 58% provided links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts from their websites and vice versa (Koenig). Even when nonprofits have websites and social media site (SMS) accounts, they demonstrate a disturbing propensity for failing to respond to direct questions from the public. The life-blood of nonprofits flows through the veins of an interested community, which makes monitoring SMS and responding to posts an essential element of nonprofits’ effective capacity building.
The causal relationship between IT usage and capacity building correlates to the definition of capacity building – “the ability of nonprofit organizations to fulfill their missions in an effective manner” DeVita and Fleming (2001). This requirement for efficacy demands that nonprofits begin thinking of the adoption of IT as a strategic investment rather than an operational expense. Only when the strategic planning process fixes its determined gaze on the capabilities of IT will the practical and fully-accepted utilization of IT become a reality within nonprofits.
Cost concerns are irrelevant in a world with an astounding array of readily available, inexpensive or free IT software programs. Organizational ambivalence remains the primary stumbling block preventing nonprofits from fully embracing IT capabilities.
If your nonprofit organization has not visualized IT capability as a catapult boosting it toward higher levels of capacity building, some other nonprofit will. The competition for scarce resources requires exigent movement toward a fully-mobilized, technology-oriented organizational structure. IT-competent nonprofits reveal themselves as forward-thinking and foundationally strong, and they convey subliminal promises of organizational power to stakeholders, donors, and the public.
IT is here to stay; in fact, today’s technology will probably be obsolete in the very near future. Nonprofits must bridge the gap between themselves and the viewing public because nonprofits cannot successfully fulfill their mission and build capacity without employing techniques that draw the public into their cause. Only nonprofits that are deliberate and committed to remaining on the forefront of IT innovations will have the opportunity to experience rich capacity building and the prospect of holistically cultivating their impact on the world.
Devita, C., Fleming, C., (2001). Capacity Building in Nonprofits. A Report Delivered to the Urban Institute. Retrieved from:
Gordon, L., (1998). Tech Wise: Nonprofits Join the Revolution. Nonprofit World 16(5), 37-41. Retrieved from:https://www.snpo.org/publications/sendpdf.php?id=944.
Koenig, R., (2015). Nonprofits Come Up Short With Donors on Social Media, Study Says. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved from:https://philanthropy.com/article/Nonprofits- Come-Up-Short-With/234017.
Kathy is a graduate of ASU’s Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program (Spring 2016). She has been accepted into the Fall 2016 PhD program in the School of Community Resources and Development. Kathy is a retired concert pianist.