Justifying Your Tech Budget – Technology

Advances in technology do not stand still for associations or non-profits no matter how tight their budget. Even the simplest of computing advancements can require that some hardware or software be upgraded from year-to-year. But failing to keep up with the techno-curve and allowing your organization to steadily fall behind can leave your organization in a deep hole that ends up costing you more in lost time, money, and resources then it would if you were able to justify the expense of upgrading.

So, what we have is a need to communicate how to balance the cost of doing nothing with the cost of spending on new technology in a business environment where every dollar is allocated to supporting the mission.

The need to present an annual technical budget to an association or nonprofit board may have its own unique circumstances, such as the need to adhere to strict or mandatory budgeting requirements. To meet these constraints, consider the following criteria when preparing for your annual budget review with the board:

  • Supports mission statement: Be transparent about how any funding is being used to further the group’s mission.
  • Forecasts contributions: Show how future contributions, gifts, and grants can offset operating expenses.
  • Plans for updates: Communicate how budget updates will be handled throughout the year to keep the original budget on track.

Presenting the right budget for your organization will differ materially from what is right for another organization. Each organization will have its own challenges and needs. Some of these variables can include:

  • What an organization is capable of and prepared to spend on technology.
  • Access to a discounted or donated upgraded system.
  • Ability to absorb implementation and training costs.
  • How effectively current technological resources are being used.
  • The number of staff available to participate in a technological update.

Although it may be tempting to propose that your organization adopt the latest technology can offer, generating a business case that shows an immediate and positive return on investment (ROI) using such technology may be a stretch. For example: Are you able to demonstrate to the board how your present technology is slowing your business process down to the point where it’s causing lost revenue? And can you then show how the proposed upgrade will alleviate your staff’s business challenges resulting in smoother office operations and higher revenue returns?

Your ability to identify your organizations biggest technological challenges and technology needs will help you to better outline your budgeting options to your nonprofit or association board for their review and approval. Based on a clear understanding of these options, presenting a cohesive set of recommendations that are more likely to be approved by the board becomes more certain.

By remembering the importance of comparing the ROI to the cost of upgrading, while showing the cost of doing nothing, you have a better opportunity to realize board approval of your technology budget that moves your group’s stated mission forward.