Not-for-profits: investing in technology to focus on your mission | OnActuate
 In A-ERP, Trending Insights

Not-for-profits (NFPs) have very ambitious goals paired with very limited resources. Increased demand for services, lean funding especially during harsh economic times, and small teams taking on many roles are only some of the challenges that not-for-profits face.  

NFPs have a lot on their plate and dealing with out-of-date and inefficient technology ultimately limits the amount of positive work not-for-profits can complete. In order to tackle important issues while maintaining organizational efficiency, not-for-profits should consider investing in a digital transformation, so they can spend more time on service work that matters. 

A challenging new world for NFPs 

One of the most significant challenges that face not-for-profit organizations is limited resources. While NFPs have always had to do more with less, the global pandemic exacerbated this issue. One of the biggest challenges facing NFPs according to an article by Johnson & Wales University was a steep drop in donations paired with an increase in demand for NFP services. 

COVID-19 restrictions eliminated or made it difficult for NFPs to host fundraising events like galas or benefit concerts, a main source of funding for many organizations. The pandemic also had disadvantaged citizens turning to NFPs more for help in meeting their basic human necessities such as food and shelter. 

As the world opens, NFPs still find themselves in tough situations fueled by global inflation. National Philanthropic Trust says NFP organizations will face challenges in choosing what they can and cannot afford. Unfortunately, due to inflation, there will be an increase in demand for NFP services as many citizens find themselves unable to afford necessities. 

Donations will also continue to be affected since inflation will have many people holding onto their money more closely as a means of saving. 

Finally, as the workforce tried to regain normalcy in 2021, NFP employers found themselves struggling to keep and attract talent with increase in pay and remote work opportunities in response to the Great Resignation. However, many organizations couldn’t pivot quickly enough. According to a Forbes article, the NFP workforce left in great numbers for many reasons including changing career paths, lack of professional development opportunities and employee disengagement. 

Is your NFP organization having trouble retaining staff? Read up on the latest blog articles from OnActuate regarding this phenomenon and how to combat it: 

How to Deal with the Quiet Quitting Crisis in the Public Sector 

Over half of Employees May Resign – How to Combat this Trend 

The case for a digital transformation 

Alyssa Morrell, Global Human Resources Manager for OnActuate, has had extensive work experience in a variety of industries including health care, retail and not-for-profits. When asked about her experience as the former HR manager at a NFP, she explained, “I loved the non-profit world because of the change you feel you are a part of. I could see that by improving the employee experience – through better benefits, policy improvements, and software solutions that made sense for our organization – our staff could devote their time and effort to important roles in the field, helping people around the globe.” 

Disorganized, decentralized technology or archaic paper-based systems create a burden for any organization that already must deal with limited resources. A digital transformation allows for an organization to free up time and resources, so NFPs can dedicate their efforts to important service work.  

Organizations can get the most out of their technology by utilizing a singular tool to manage all elements of their business operations. ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning) can be leveraged to fit the organization’s needs of budgeting, forecasting, managing grants, etc., without the hassle of managing separate technologies. 

ERPs are not just for the financial team either. Morrell points out that ERPs can be very helpful for other departments, such as human resources. 

ERPs can serve many purposes to HR,” said Morrell. “Budgeting for and tracking salary expenses is very important. Also, being able to import time expenditures so that we can determine project costs.” 

However, getting the digital transformation right the first time is extremely important for NFPs, especially when resources are already stretched so thin. Depending on the size of the organization and the work they do, an implementation of a new system could take months. That’s why it’s best to choose the right partner who can steer the organization in the right direction.  

In her previous role, Morrell stated that the organization needed to migrate to a new system because their technology was too outdated, clucky and staff did not have the proper support to use it 

“The organization chose their first ERP, Navision, because they were running the organization through a combination of QuickBooks and Excel workbooks. We had grown to the point where a more robust solution was needed, especially one that could help manage grant funding. It was vital for the organization to be able to manage their financials and do forecasting using one tool. 

However, the NFP went through three implementations after finding the first two did not meet their needs, ultimately wasting time and money. 

Finding the right solution 

Regarding the first implementation, Morrell said “Navision was an enterprise level tool which didn’t provide the agility we needed. We also did not have ongoing partner support to help us make changes and to teach our staff, and so the finance and IT team would have to figure it out together.” 

Eventually the NFP migrated to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. “They wanted a more agile and a web-based solution. Business Central was more right sized for the organization.” 

Some of the benefits of Business Central that NFPs will find appealing are: 

  • Combines built-in intelligent business apps with Microsoft’s productivity suite (Excel, Outlook, etc.) in one user-friendly, cloud platform. 
  • Quick to install, licensed per user, and puts an end to time-consuming software upgrades with cumulative updates. 
  • Scalable to fit large enterprises with more complex needs, allowing for the solution to grow along with the organization. 
Finding the right partner 

Choosing the right technology also means choosing the right partner to help implement the technology. Change can really affect NFPs positively and negatively, especially when there is economic uncertainty and limited resources available. That’s why it’s essential to work with a trusted partner when undertaking a digital transformation. 

NFPs can utilize RFPs (request for proposals) to find the right partner that can offer them expertise, project guidance, and implementation experience all within a tight budget and timeframe. From there, NFPs can create a scoring criterion and meet with several potential partners in order to choose the right partner for the project. 

For more helpful information on writing RFPs to attract great technology partners, read our blog on the Top 3 RFP Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them. 

For NFPs, finding the right partner can be a time-consuming task that involves utilizing a lot of resources better spent starting on the digital transformation project or elsewhere. However, the right partner with the right experience in helping not-for-profits will benefit the organization in the long run. OnActuate is the technology partner that can easily check off all your needs and more. 

The OnActuate difference 

OnActuate’s team of implementation experts take the stress out of digital transformations. Our process-centric approach and in-depth experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementations will provide any organization with a modern solution that allows it to work more efficiently and grow with future needs. 

Our team understands the needs and demands of not-for-profits and can work with your organization to create a project roadmap that works for you. As experienced software consultants, we have worked with hundreds of clients around the world to better connect their operations and improve productivity. By putting your business strategies, goals and objectives first, OnActuate is better able to understand what requirements your organization needs, and which solution would be best to meet those needs. 

Discover some of the outstanding digital transformations with not-for-profit partners we have worked with to better understand the value we can bring to your organization. 

If you are ready to discuss a digital transformation for your not-for-profit, contact us 


Not-for-profits operate on tight budgets – so it can be difficult to find funding for a digital transformation, even if upgraded technology will reduce costs in the long term. Luckily, there are resources available for NFPs to help fund new technologies and digital transformation projects. If you need a grant, visit the following websites to discover what is available for your organization: 

CIP Project-Based Grant 

Microsoft Support for Not-for-profits 

Digital Lift Grant 

Class Networks Digital Transformation Charity 

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