INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
As with other organizations in society, information technology has influenced the way in which such entities are led, managed, and administered. Video, audio, computer, photography, computer, Internet, software, open-source software, microblogging, wiki, telephone, mobile phone, and online social networking are examples of technological resources or support used by nonprofit organizations to support programs and activities that can further their vision and mission.
According to data publicized by Techimpact (2013), social media, especially social networks like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Webo, Linkedln, and others, enable nonprofit organizations to design peer-to-peer campaigns that influence people to donate and volunteer their time to support their issue of interest. Additionally, nonprofit organizations use cloud computing to implement advocacy and fund-raising campaigns in a way that was not possible two decades ago. Techimpact (2013) reported that a large majority of nonprofit organizations worldwide use the cloud not just because it of its technology, but also and especially due to its cost-effectiveness.
Technology constitutes an asset for nonprofit organizations to disseminate information that helps people understand their relevance in their communities, and raise money to support their activities. Technology is involved in the strategic planning of nonprofit organizations either as support to conduct the process or as part of strategic programming areas. Technology is also involved in management, administration, fund-raising, and service delivery facets of nonprofit organizations.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND ASSET MAPPING
The geographic information system (GIS) is used by many nonprofit organizations to conduct asset mapping. The GIS is a "powerful set of tools for collecting, storing, retrieving at will, transforming and displaying spatial data from the real world" (Burrough, 1986, p .6). With GIS, assets in a community can be located based on their geographic boundaries, addresses, service locations, and surrounding residences and workplace facilities. It is basically like any traditional database program, except that it involves spatial data that can be translated into a map.
The GIS provides better visuals about the dispersion of the target population of a particular organization. GIS can be integrated into needs-assessment and asset-mapping activities to develop better tools for planning, community development, and fund-raising efforts. In fact, the ability of a nonprofit organization to address the needs of its target population resides in the capability of such an organization to capture needs, desires, and expectations that reflect the neighborhood trends where the target population resides. The GIS can organize information in layers, and create a more customized or targeted view from that. The organization of information on communities and target populations in a comprehensive manner can facilitate better decision making that can contribute to the overall sustainability, including financial sustainability, of a nonprofit organization.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICE DELIVERY
Information technology is an added value to services, including services that nonprofit organizations provide to children, families, and communities. According to recent information published by Pew Research Center (Duggan, & Smith, 2013), 91% of American adults have a cell phone, 55% have a Smartphone, 32% own an e-reader, and 42% own a tablet computer. This is not just the reality of the United States. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that 79% of Australians aged 15 or older have access to the Internet (ABS, 2013). Most people use their phone and/or computer as their primary means for communication or consumption of services. Special Effect (2013) is a charitable organization based in the United Kingdom. The organization is dedicated to using technology to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities. Their programs help children and young people with disabilities access mainstream video games and leisure technology. They have occupational therapists who work with their clients in their facilities. If a client has a major disability that prevents travel, they reach out at home. This organization has clearly used technology not just as a support to service delivery, but as a service in itself.
With information and communication technology, services that some nonprofit organizations provide are becoming more accessible to clients. There have been initiatives to develop mobile phone applications to help individuals living alone at home, people with disabilities or living in rural or remote areas, and people at risk of violence or intimidation. For example, the National Network to End Domestic Violence maintains a 24/7 phone line, and the National Safe & Strategic Technology Project helps in prevention of domestic violence against women living with dangerous partners or in abusive relationships.
Technology provides flexibility that enables nonprofit organizations to reduce face-to-face time for some activities, and use their staff for more urgent needs to help clients who need special attention. This flexibility may help build better rapport with clients and increase their level of satisfaction with the assistance they receive. This has a cost-saving application for service delivery. With flexibility to help more clients at the same time, the cost of service delivery can be reduced considerably.