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Technology improves NGO productivity

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A massive 98% of NGOs in South Africa believe that technology is essential to their day-to-day operations.
This is according to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft, which polled NGO’s across the region.
The research also found that NGOs that have adopted digital solutions within their organisations are able to work more effectively with staff and volunteers across the globe.
NGOs that participated in the survey reported that they found the most important resources for their organisation to be cloud-based technologies, Skype for enhanced communication with other offices and field workers, as well as tools that allowed for data collection and analysis.
According to one respondent: “Cloud technology has improved our operations, allowing us to keep a detailed database of our beneficiaries, update records easily, search for records faster and back-up information on servers that are not on our premises.”
The survey also showed that, out of the 55 non-profits surveyed, only 12 said that 80% of their employees and field workers have access to devices, while 16 reported that their field workers are using technology to better serve their cause.
However, those who do have devices said that their employees are empowered to better to serve their communities because they are able to work from anywhere, reducing their anxiety to deliver and eliminating inefficiencies.
A lack of funding and poor Internet connection were also cited as some of the biggest barriers to adoption of technology within the NGO sector. Several respondents indicated that there was often an internal belief that technology is too expensive. They also reported facing challenges regarding weak team structures and collaboration, as well as restricted funding models.
However, according to Siya Madyibi, head of corporate external and legal affairs at Microsoft SA, the right technology allows NGO’s to overcome in-country connectivity issues and break free of physical IT hardware.
“As we bring technology to more NGOs we are able to complement their traditional practices, and ensure a holistic approach. For example, using CRM Online allows NGOs to always stay connected to constituents, volunteers, and donors, allowing them to nurture donor relationships but also acknowledging that face to face meetings are not phased out completely,” he says.
As part of its $1-billion commitment to ensure that cloud serves the public good, Microsoft Philanthropies is making Microsoft Azure broadly available to eligible non-profit organisations by offering Azure credits. Microsoft Azure’s cloud services help organisations accelerate innovation with integrated intelligence that powers insights and decision-making, supports a broad selection of operating systems, and provides industry-leading security.
This offer adds to the existing suite of Microsoft cloud services that are available to non-profits.
“We’re continuing our investment in NGO’s in South Africa, using our resources and expertise to overcome barriers that NGO’s face by working hand in hand with policy makers. We want to set them up for success to thrive in a digital-first world. Ultimately we want to achieve a common goal of supporting the economic growth of South Africa and achieving long-term sustainability within the non-profit sector,” says Madyibi.