Grantmaking organizations manage billions of dollars of funding every year. The importance of maximizing the power of technology can’t be underestimated. Remarkably, most foundations lack a strategic technology plan that aligns with their mission, initiatives, and foundationwide strategy — even though it’s vital to reaching their goals.
In fact, according to a 2014 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) survey, a mere 23 percent of respondents said they have a technology plan that has been updated within the past two years. An additional 15 percent said they have a plan, but it hasn’t been updated, which means it isn’t keeping up with rapidly advancing technology. The most troubling statistic is the 62 percent of respondents who don't have a technology plan at all.
That just won’t do in today’s rapidly changing world. Having a technology plan is more important than ever in optimizing the grantmaking process and making the greatest impact possible. Here’s how to get 2017 planning started on the right foot.
4 Steps to a Strategically Aligned Technology Plan
1. Define Your Strategy Begin by considering your organization’s vision and objectives; then, incorporate technology that promotes your mission. What is your foundation’s mission, and how can technology help you get there?
2. Choose Wisely Start with a software evaluation tool that will help you rank software based on what your team needs. For grants management software, the 2016 Idealware Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systemsis a great place to start. Use a power ranking of your priority requirements in conjunction with the evaluation tool to determine the best path to take.
3. Train and Implement Strategically Get your team members on board with the new technology plan by putting a training plan in place that will show them how the technology meets their individual needs. An untrained staff is an unhappy staff. And an unhappy staff is apt to never wholeheartedly embrace the new technology.
4. Learn Constantly Stay up-to-date on the maintenance of your technology. Use metrics to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. What are the major accomplishments since you implemented the technology? These could include increased efficiency or reduced duplication and redundancy. Then, as you examine what isn’t working, think of these areas as opportunities for improvement, and plan to adjust accordingly.
In short: If you’re spending money on technology that isn’t helping your foundation achieve its mission as defined by your strategic plan, it’s time to move on from that technology. But be smart. Don’t be one of the 62 percent of foundations that don’t have a technology plan. To achieve your goals as a foundation, it’s necessary for you to maximize the power of technology. And to do this right, you must have a strong plan in place.
Learn how the Blue Shield of California Foundation, Arcus Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and others approach strategic technology planning in our white paper: The Foundation’s Guide to a Must-Have Technology Plan. Click here to download!