Non-Profits Can Innovate Beyond Perceived Budget Limitations by Thinking Outside the Technology Box
Staying within budget while trying to follow the organization’s mission can be a tremendous struggle for non-profits. This often leaves them lagging in the technology department because, as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yet, there are problems with this mindset that hold them back from reaching their potential. Connecting with the right resources and having an open mind can make all the difference in their ability to think outside the realm of their limitations and reach new heights they didn’t think were possible.
Connecting the dots for social impact: The Carter Center, NetHope, Microsoft, and AKA
The Carter Center, an organization aimed at advocating for human rights and alleviating human suffering throughout the world, was reliant on outdated technology and unable to innovate on their own. For example, their reporting systems, both internal and external to donors, were unable to create reliable, data driven reports in an efficient manner. This is where NetHope, Microsoft Tech for Social Impact (TSI), and AKA Enterprise Solutions came in.
NetHope connects non-profits with tech innovators across the globe to increase productivity, collaboration, and innovation using new technology. Microsoft’s TSI division focuses on connecting Microsoft partners with non-profits to help them succeed using affordable and accessible technology. Through NetHope’s partnership with Microsoft TSI, non-profits gain access to a wide variety of Microsoft partners with extensive experience working with non-profits, each offering additional specialties and areas of expertise.
Finding the right partner: Why Tech for Social Impact chose AKA
After the non-profit comes to NetHope with the basic premise of their Dream, NetHope selects the Microsoft Partner they believe is best equipped to turn that dream into a reality. That’s why Microsoft asked AKA Enterprise Solutions to help the Carter Center with their goal of evolving their technology systems. AKA’s deep experience with non-profits made us the perfect partner for this transformation. For example:
- AKA helped a rapidly growing global humanitarian aid, relief, and development organization smooth operations through streamlined workflows and cross-functional collaboration, and developed more efficient ways to meet compliance requirements and prevent fraud. With access to single source-of-truth financial and supply chain data, decision making is now faster and better informed, and a quicker turnaround for procure-to-pay activities translates to more efficient and cost-effective purchasing, good positioning, and delivery.
- AKA helped a foundation focused on ending type 1 diabetes and funding type 1 diabetes research by providing comprehensive financial management in a centralized application. The custom technology solution improved coordination between HQ and 100+ chapters and enabled user self-service—all while creating a foundation for future global growth and retaining top talent.
The “Dream” workshop: AKA and The Carter Center map the goals
The next step was to get AKA and the Carter Center into a room for a two-day “Dream” workshop. Approximately 25 Carter Center employees and a team of experienced AKA consultants worked together on exercises aimed at narrowing the focus of the organization’s goals. Together, they envisioned a system that would:
- Improve their annual budgeting-to-fiscal reporting process
- Improve their end-to-end process of donor proposal through reporting back to donors
With the goals mapped, the AKA team was able to show how we could help the Carter Center with our unique Dynamics 365 solutions for non-profits.
Creating the “Dream Book”
After the Dream stage was completed, AKA and NetHope worked together to create a deliverable outlining the process. This document began with the challenges the organization is facing, followed by an overview of the sessions that took place during the Dream workshop:
- Part 1 (the “journey map”): Identifying key stakeholders and building a shared understanding of the process going forward
- Part 2: Looking at how the organization’s challenges can be turned into opportunities for growth
- Part 3: Exploring preliminary solutions to the known issues
- Part 4: Defining the dream, providing a value proposition, and outlining how it benefits the organization
Finally, the recommended next steps were presented, along with an estimated timeline. In the end, The Carter Center had a realistic, actionable plan for reaching their goals.
Don’t Limit Yourself…get outside of the technology box
Because of the Carter Center’s willingness to think outside the box and collaborate with knowledgeable partners who listened to their dream, they are now on their way to a successful digital transformation that they previously thought was impossible due to budget constraints.
Non-profits should realize that using the same technology for years on end, even when seeing some organizational success, does not take you to the next level—but your budget doesn’t have to hold you back. If your organization is willing to think creatively, digital transformation is absolutely a real possibility. AKA can help, so take the next step. Contact the non-profit experts at AKA to discuss your organization’s “Dream.”