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Survey Shows Disconnect Between Nonprofit Senior Management and IT and Development Teams Regarding Technology

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WASHINGTON (AFP eWire - April 4, 2003) - Nonprofit leaders are not making technology a priority in their organizations, although they believe that technology can lead to greater fundraising success and improve how their organizations operate, according to a new survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and Telosa Software Inc., a fundraising software provider.

Eighty-three percent of nonprofit leaders said they were heavily focused on improving operational efficiency and effectiveness in their organizations, and 100 percent said technology could contribute to such efforts. However, few said they were actually factoring technology investments into their organizations' operating plans.

The survey, released March 25 at AFP's 40th International Conference on Fundraising in Toronto, questioned more than 400 nonprofit professionals.

Nearly three-fourths of the respondents agreed that technology was important to their organization's fundraising success as technology allows for a greater ability to maximize relationships with existing donors, open doors to new donors and assist with donor and volunteer prospecting.

The survey showed a disconnect between nonprofit senior management's views on technology investment and the views of information technology (IT) specialists and development personnel.

Only 33 percent of nonprofit managers said they were factoring technology into operating plans, compared to 80 percent of IT staff and 74 percent of development directors. In addition, 27 percent of nonprofit managers said their organization had recently invested or planned to invest in technology in 2003, compared to 60 percent of IT professionals and 58 percent of development personnel.

'The survey confirmed what we have been hearing all along: IT and development personnel in nonprofit organizations experience the most pain when it comes to performing the everyday tasks associated with fundraising and donor and information management without technology,' said AFP Chair Colette Murray.

Murray said that technology needs to be viewed as a way to streamline ongoing fundraising and organizational operations.

'Nonprofit leaders don't place enough emphasis on technology budgeting and planning,' she said. 'This is becoming even more prevalent as nonprofits are forced to do more with less in tough economic times.'

The survey also showed that the economy has affected arts, culture and humanities groups the hardest, with 47 percent saying they had no plans to invest in new technology in 2003 to improve fundraising efforts. Smaller nonprofits were the least likely to recognize the importance of technology and therefore, were the least likely to feel their technology plans were affected by the economy.

'It is good to see that, for the most part, nonprofits understand that technology can play a significant role in improving the operational effectiveness of their organizations,' said Susan Packard Orr, founder and CEO of Telosa Software. 'However, it is alarming that a sizeable number of nonprofits do not have a strategy or long-term plan for technology in place. In times when donor dollars are harder to come by, these activities become even more crucial for the ongoing stability and growth of any nonprofit organization.'

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