3 Essential Skills for Non-Profit IT Professionals
With so much of the modern business world shifting into the digital space, IT professionals are in more demand than ever before, especially in non-profits. In fact, working for a charity is not that different from working for a big corporation. The job functions are very similar, and expectations are as well. But in a non-profit, you’re doing everything you can to make a difference while ensuring the business is operating as efficiently as possible (and at the lowest possible costs).
Now, that doesn’t mean that any IT professional can move into the non-profit sector without understanding some of the industry-specific skills they’ll need. That goes double for anyone leaving the private sector to pursue a charity career. In fact, a lot of non-profits are a bit behind the curve in terms of technology, but the sector as a whole is undergoing the same kinds of digital disruptions that private industry has been encountering for years.
To understand where the sector is in terms of technology, consider that a recent survey revealed that 58% of charities in the UK have no digital strategy at all – but that means someone with the right skills and know-how can be a real asset in driving that digital transformation. Of course, there are some industry-specific skills that any IT professional should have to help turn their new non-profit workplace into a tech-friendly enterprise.
Think you may be the right person for the job? Here are the three most important skills you should brush up on before applying to work in IT for a charity.
1. A speciality in cloud services
Since non-profits prize efficiency in their operations, much of the technology that they’ve been adopting over the last few years has been cloud-based. Not only does this save them the man-hours it used to take to keep detailed and organised files on everything, but it means they have the option to work remotely (whether that’s from home or directly with the people the charity is supporting). That’s why it’s so vital to ensure that cloud technology is up to date and working smoothly.
Cloud solutions almost always have a lower total cost of ownership and are easier to support. That makes them essential parts of operating an efficient, lean, fundraising operation. Cloud-based CRM systems like The Raiser’s Edge help charities manage fundraising and donor relationships. Other cloud services, like DonorPerfect and Bloomerang, are also mainstays in the non-profit world, so it’s a good idea to do a little bit of reading about these products (and any other niche software your new company is using) so you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
2. An understanding of analytics
Over the last few years, Big Data and analytics have been the darlings of the business world. Now, they’re taking over the non-profit sector too. And it’s easy to understand why – in fact, 78% of non-profits that use advanced analytics solutions report being more effective at achieving their core mission. For the IT professional, that means you’re going to need to understand the concepts involved in collecting, analysing, and extracting insights from data if you’re to succeed in the non-profit world. This is especially true within smaller charity organisations with few employees since they’re not likely to have a robust marketing department to handle analytics, making the task the exclusive purview of the IT professional. If your existing position didn’t include analytics, make sure you do some upskilling before you take a job with a non-profit.
3. In-depth knowledge of social media tools
For the typical private sector IT worker, social media is a thing that you spend much of your time trying to prevent employees from using during work hours. But in the world of the non-profit, social media is now one of the most important tools used to spread an organisation’s message and help raise funds. While the social media channels themselves will be managed by the non-profit’s marketing team, it’s still up to the IT team to support the software and tools they need to do their jobs.
For IT professional, that means having a thorough understanding of the inner workings of all of the major social media platforms, as well as a firm grasp on social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social. It’s also advisable to get a handle on what a typical non-profit social media marketing plan looks like, so you’ll be ready to support it on the technology side of things by suggesting additional software and services that could further the goals of the non-profit on social media.
Be a technology hero
If you’re considering crossing over into the charity sector, you’re making the right move. There are plenty of worthy causes championed by organisations that can sure use some technology help. By mastering the skills mentioned above, you should be able to use your talents to help them meet their goals and do some tangible good in the world. Best of all, you’ll feel good doing it, too. So what are you waiting for? Find out what jobs are available for IT professionals in non-profits today.