Getting Your Nonprofit Technology Budget in Shape

My sister got that dance game for the Wii – you know the one that makes you follow along with the dancers while they do outrageous moves to hip new music. She says that this game keeps her in shape – like a fun workout. She’s pretty good at it. I, on the other hand may end up breaking a hip or something trying to follow the moves. There is one song on there about the “money, money, money” that is pretty popular now. I can actually do some of those moves when she sings the “Cha-ching, cha-ching, ba-bling, ba-bling” part!
What does that have to do with boring cloud technology? Nothing really, except that it gets me thinking about how out of shape I am. Then it gets me thinking about how out of shape we all are when it comes to technology and money and budgets. That’s just how my mind works.
I have been with Tech Impact (formerly NPowerPA) for 9 years. Money and budgets are a big part of how I help nonprofits with technology. My job is really to help nonprofits get the best technology for their buck and has always been that way. I have spent years sitting at this keyboard configuring server quotes and preaching the value of new desktops over donated PCs, and then doing it all again 4 or 5 years later when the server crashes and the PCs can’t handle the new software. It’s similar to the years that I spent on the treadmill losing a pound here or there, just to gain it back it again if I miss a week. That stupid machine.
I’m often put into the uncomfortable position of telling an organization that they need to come up with $5,000 or $10,000 of unplanned Capital Expenditure to replace the server and recover the data. Yikes! Where can an organization get their hands on that kind of money?
I would rather talk to them about using cloud technology as a way to transfer that Capital Expense into Operating Expense so that they can accomplish a few goals:
· Get better, newer, faster technology
· Lower the total cost of technology
· Have data available from anywhere on the globe, any time of the day or night
· Change work habits and work flow
Operating Expense (Opex): takes the cost of technology and spreads it over time as a monthly expense so that you can budget for ongoing costs and predict additional costs on a per-user basis. No more surprises. No more YIKES. IT becomes a subscription.
Capital Expense (Capex): You can depreciate it (if you have a fancy pants accountant), but you need to come up with cold hard cash every 4-5 years (or immediately when it breaks). Instead of a small monthly bill, you get one giant one.
I get as excited talking about the cloud as my sister gets when she talks about that dance game. Who wouldn’t want faster, better, sexier technology with predictable costs? Who wouldn’t want to get in shape jumping around the living room and laughing at the dance moves rather than walking on the treadmill-to-nowhere?
This is a very exciting time for nonprofits and technology. Taking advantage of it is all about changing the way you think about the money, money, money.
I need to get in shape to keep up with the changes and demand. Back to the dance game!

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