What is the cost of FREE Technology?

New York Nonprofit Media hosted a Nonprofit TechCon at Fordham University this last week (December 10th, 2015). This event brought together technology, IT and executive leadership from nonprofits across New York to discuss the impact technology has had and will have on the nonprofit community.

We jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this program, as nonprofit and charity organizations are a huge part of our focus! Our Director of Technology, Dave Gerstenmaier, and our Portals & Information Architect, Danny David, made the journey to Lincoln Center to share our valuable insight with the community and to also do a little learning of ourselves of course!

One of the sessions focused on free technology tools for nonprofits. Free tools can be beneficial to organizations with restricted resources and limited funding, but it is important to recognize that there can be challenges associated with free tools. So what does "free" really cost you? What questions should you be asking yourself and what are some things you should think about?

It's FREE! Yes, that is the main benefit. Nonprofits are usually faced with a very limited staff & budget and the RIGHT free tools can improve productivity and workflow for your organization.
The right free tools can help you manage your data more effectively & monitor your customer base easier.
Run an organization based on strategic decisions & organized financials with the right software.
Free tools can help your organization collaborate easier, especially on-the-go in this mobile-first world.
Free tools, like social media, can help you connect better with your customer base.
Changing your organizational culture by being better able to collaborate, integrate, and evaluate is invaluable. Not just free tools, but the RIGHT free tools can take your nonprofit to the next level.

Once you get the free technology some companies just send you on your way! Think about training? How good is a tool if you don't know how to utilize it! Do you have the capacity to learn it?
When it's free what is not there? Does your organization handle sensitive data? Thinking about security and data breaches is something you want to focus on when it comes to free tools. This is your reputation. Cyber security and cyber threats are a huge issue in today's technology world for everyone.
How much do you get? A lot of free technology may be free upfront, but read the fine print. Are there hidden fees? Data charges?
Can the free technology interact with your current infrastructure? When it's free it is rarely customizable. Something else to think about if you allow a free tool to be used.

It is important to do your research into what free technology you are going to bring into your organization. Match the tool to the goal! There are incredible tools that are available out there, just do your homework and read the fine print. If you have questions give us a call, Office 365 is available for qualifying nonprofits, read more here.

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