Nonprofit organizations are as dependent on their information technology (IT) environment as any other entity. Their websites need to be available and perform well to handle donor traffic and process contributions. Poorly managed systems and infrastructures can severely impact a nonprofit’s ability to perform its work and further its cause.
A nonprofit organization should engage a managed service provider (MSP) to assist them in operating and maintaining their IT environment for numerous reasons. Let’s look at some of the most impactful benefits nonprofits can expect to enjoy when working with a reliable MSP.
Supplementing lean IT departments
A common issue among nonprofits is the need to work within a tight budget and a limited headcount. This often means that there is a small dedicated IT department. The IT team may not have the necessary skills to effectively manage the environment. This can result in security vulnerabilities that put the organization at risk. It almost always leads to inefficiencies as small and overworked teams struggle to address problems rather than optimize the infrastructure.
MSPs have experienced technical teams that can step in and augment an understaffed IT team. They can address issues that the team has not had the cycles to handle and recommend more efficient operational methods. Tapping into the technical knowledge available from an MSP can make a huge difference in the way the IT environment is managed and its utility to the organization.
Providing cybersecurity and data security support
Strong cybersecurity is essential in all types of organizations. It may be surprising to learn that nonprofits are often targeted by cybercriminals. This is due to the lax IT security many nonprofits demonstrate combined with the sensitive data resources they may store in their systems.
Cybercriminals attack nonprofits in three main ways.
- Ransomware is delivered through phishing emails or other means to encrypt an organization’s data and make it inaccessible to authorized users.
- Data theft is perpetrated with compromised credentials and elevated privileges by criminals or malicious insiders.
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can result in unexpected outages that impact a nonprofit’s ability to perform its work.
The limited resources of many nonprofits’ IT teams make it difficult to implement the necessary security measures to protect the organization. A reputable MSP can perform a security and vulnerability assessment, determine where security needs to be improved, and implement the necessary procedures to protect the IT environment.
One of the distinguishing aspects of nonprofits is their reliance on volunteers to further the goals of the organization. Without the assistance of volunteers, many nonprofits would be unable to raise funds or perform the good services for which they were created.
An MSP can help empower a nonprofit’s volunteer base by implementing and securing remote access so systems can be accessed at any time from any location. The MSP can institute best practices such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), end-to-end encryption, and virtual private networks (VPNs) to make sure all remote system access is secure.
The ability to interact with donors anywhere can be a big boost to fundraising efforts. Volunteers can accept and process donations on the spot without relying on potential donors logging in at a later time.
Disaster recovery planning and preparation
The cybersecurity risks outlined earlier in this article can result in extended outages and an inability to access critical data resources. Nonprofits need a robust and tested disaster recovery plan in place to make sure they can recover systems quickly in the event of a successful ransomware attack or other system-impacting event.
A viable disaster recovery plan needs to consider many elements of a nonprofit’s computing environment. System recovery needs to be prioritized with essential components recovered first. Data needs to be backed up and made available for recovery either in the cloud or at an alternate on-premises location. An MSP can provide the expertise necessary to develop a disaster recovery plan and procedures that get a nonprofit back up and running promptly if they are affected by a disaster.
Nonprofits may store and process sensitive information that requires compliance with regulatory standards. If they are associated with the healthcare field, nonprofits in the U.S. need to comply with HIPPA privacy and security guidelines or face substantial financial and organizational penalties. Organizations that process credit card donations are subject to the PCI-DSS security standards.
Achieving and maintaining compliance can be difficult even for companies with large, dedicated IT teams. The average nonprofit needs help to ensure they comply with all pertinent security and privacy regulations. An MSP with the right experience can point an organization in the right direction and help them develop the infrastructure, procedures, and policies that maintain compliance.
Maximizing cloud-based computing services
Nonprofits can take advantage of cloud computing without the assistance of an MSP. A potential problem with a strategy of going alone is the variety and complexity of cloud solutions. Inexperienced decision-makers can inadvertently make choices that negatively impact productivity and performance while simultaneously spending more than they should on the services.
An MSP’s role is to efficiently manage an organization’s IT services. Their experience with cloud-based solutions enables them to recommend the best products and services available from public cloud providers. In many cases, a multi-cloud approach turns out to be the most beneficial for the nonprofit. The MSP may be able to suggest advanced technology that can streamline procedures while reducing the costs of IT maintenance.
An Experienced Managed Services Partner for Nonprofits
Prescient Solutions has extensive experience working with nonprofits and understands the challenges they face. Their team of technical experts and comprehensive portfolio of services can help nonprofits with an on-premises or cloud-based IT environment. Prescient can even assist organizations to execute a successful migration to the cloud.
Nonprofits can get started with Prescient by requesting a vulnerability and security assessment that will uncover any gaps that need to be addressed. Once they have been identified, Prescient will help strengthen security by implementing best practices throughout the environment to address any vulnerabilities. Partnering with Prescient is an excellent move for any nonprofit concerned with the security and performance of its IT infrastructure.