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Avoiding Pitfalls- Common Mistakes Charities Make With IT

Charity volunteers at work

Charities are dedicated to making a positive impact on society. To achieve their goals, they often rely on Information Technology to manage their operations, reach donors, and deliver services. However, just like any other sector, charities can make IT-related mistakes that hinder their ability to fulfil their missions effectively. Here we explore some common errors that charities make with IT and show you how they can be avoided.

Neglecting cybersecurity

One of the most significant mistakes charities make is neglecting cybersecurity. Charities often collect sensitive information, such as donor details and beneficiary data. Failing to implement robust security measures can put this data at risk. Charities therefore need to invest in firewalls, antivirus software, and staff training to mitigate the risk of data breaches. Regular security audits are also essential to identify vulnerabilities. According to Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport report, 24% of charities fell victim to cyber-attacks in the past year. A staggering 19 of them reported being targeted once a month by hackers.

Ignoring data backups

Data loss can be catastrophic for charities. Whether it’s donor databases, financial records, or important documents, losing this information can disrupt operations and damage a charity’s reputation. Some charities neglect to set up proper data backup and recovery systems. It’s essential to regularly back up data and test the restoration process to ensure it works when needed. One efficient way to mitigate the risk of losing data is to store it both in the cloud as well as offline.

Underestimating IT budgeting

Charities often operate on tight budgets, which can lead to underinvestment in IT. This mistake can result in outdated technology, unreliable systems, and increased operational costs in the long run. Charities should create a realistic IT budget that accounts for hardware, software, and ongoing maintenance. Investing in IT can reduce operational costs by increasing efficiency. By performing proper audits regularly and consulting an IT support service provider who specialises in assisting charities and other non-profit organisations, you can optimise your IT budget without sacrificing quality and operational efficiency.

Failure to plan for scalability

Charities grow and evolve, but many fail to plan for IT scalability. This can result in systems that do not accommodate the organisation’s changing needs. It’s vital for charities to ensure their systems are scalable, making it easier to add users, devices, and services as the organisation expands. Inefficient systems slow down operations causing headaches for staff and customers.

Not embracing cloud solutions

Some charities resist moving to the cloud because of concerns about data security and cost. However, the cloud can provide cost-effective, scalable, and secure IT solutions. It allows remote access to data and applications, making it easier for remote or distributed teams to collaborate. Charities should consider the advantages of cloud solutions for their specific needs. However, it’s advisable for you to turn to an IT provider who specialises in charities to find the best cloud solution for your charity’s needs as there are multiple options with different features to choose from.

Poor vendor management

Charities often rely on external vendors for IT services. While this can be a cost-effective strategy, poor vendor management can lead to operational problems. Charities should ensure vendors meet their service level agreements (SLAs) and provide adequate support. A lack of vendor oversight can result in unexpected downtime and operational disruptions that affect not only the charity but also customers.

Insufficient IT training

Charity staff don’t have to be IT experts, but basic IT training is essential. Many IT issues arise from user errors. Charities should invest in training programs to ensure that employees can use technology effectively and securely. This training can reduce the risk of data breaches and system failures. Regular training improves satisfaction among the staff and mitigates risks that can have devastating consequences for charity, its customers and donors.

Lack of a comprehensive IT strategy

A strategic approach to IT is vital for charities. Some charities lack a cohesive IT strategy, leading to disjointed systems and inefficiencies. A well-defined IT strategy should align with the charity’s mission and include plans for security, data management, and technology adoption.

Require assistance with IT management for your charity?

Effective IT management is crucial for charities, just as it is for any other organisation. Avoiding common IT mistakes can help charities operate more efficiently, protect sensitive data, and better achieve their mission. By addressing these mistakes and investing in IT as a strategic asset, charities can make a more significant impact on the communities and causes they serve. If you’d like to learn more about improving your charity’s IT and security, the help4IT team are happy to assist you and answer any question you may have. Contact us today for assistance.

Tom Finnis

Tom Finnis is responsible for the delivery of IT support services and projects to help4IT's clients, as well as the development of the company's cloud infrastructure and related products. Tom has overseen the growth of the Help4IT technical department from 3 to 12 full-time staff, with additional contract workers, creating the systems and procedures to enable the efficient provision of the company's high level of support. More recently he has led the design and deployment of help4IT's multi-site cloud infrastructure.

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