How to setup a non-profit with simple technology

Small non-profits have different technology needs than for-profit companies because they are operating with different values and a different funding system. This results in some really significant changes to the technology you might setup for one. Everything from the website to conference calling capabilities, to payroll, to accounting, to computers, and cloud storage is impacted by these differences.

Now, before I dig deep I want to point out that when a non-profit reaches a certain funding level or employee count there is a shift that happens where the values and philosophy often shift to being more like a for-profit company. This happens somewhere over  $1 million in annual donations and 25 employees. I have not worked with non-profits of this size directly. So, if you’re advising one of these, to an analysis before you get in too deep. For organizations smaller than that read on for my tips.

Websites For Small Non-Profits

I’ve written an entire article on how to sell and create websites for non-profits that fit their values and needs. The short version of that article is this:

  1. Use world-standard technology
  2. Avoid customization
  3. Be an advisor
  4. Over-deliver value

The result of an approach like this is a really nice website that the non-profit can manage themselves if they want to. Or, they can pay you to do it. Or they can hire someone else with standard skills who doesn’t have to bill them 20 hours to just understand how the website works.

Conference Calling for Small Non-Profits

Yes, non-profits need to host conference calls and video chats just like all other types of organizations. Small ones are often happy to trade a little advertising for the free use of such a system that can handle a lot of attendees. This is where comes in. FCC provides free calling for up to 1000 attendees which comes with desktop sharing and video conferencing. When an attendee dials in to the audio they here a one-time message stating that the call is being provided by as an advertisement. It is very short. If the organization you are working with is willing to have that small placement then this is a great way to get free conference call and video conference services.

Payroll Handling for Small Non-Profits

The key for a small non-profit is for the taxes and regulations to be handled by someone who has already figured it out, it needs to be easy, and it needs to work easily for the bookkeeper, auditor, and CPA if one is working with the organization.

I personally use and recommend Gusto (affiliate link). They handle all the basics of payroll and reimbursements. They collect all the information from my employees and contractors so I don’t have to. They pay on time when I approve timesheets on time. And, they handle tax filings at the federal and state level. The fee is very reasonable and the customer service has always been great in my experience.

Accounting For Small Non-Profits

Keeping track of the money is really important even for non-profit organizations. It is so incredibly important to understand the current financials, donations, sponsorships, payroll, receivables, payables, etc. I also find that is is incredibly important for this information to be readily available on the go at board meetings, to a bookkeeper, to the CFO, and to others in the organization. Finally, it needs to be able to integrate with other systems that non-profits use like SalesForce, Shopify, and countless other popular CRM and Expense systems.

I use and recommend QuickBooks Online (special discounted pricing & affiliate link).

It is web-based (yes, a Cloud system) and gives you complete functionality anywhere you have an internet connection. You can manage rolls and data access. Your accountant will know how to use it. It is easy to learn. And darn it… you will love the flexibility.

Shared Storage for Small Non-Profits

Get off the idea of a NAS and start putting documents in the cloud. I strongly recommend to all my clients a Google For Business account that comes with email handling, Google Apps, Google Drive, etc. This is a good way for everyone in the organization to share documents, track changes, and get to stuff wherever they are connected to the internet.


If you’re working to help a small non-profit and you would like help figuring out what to recommend or set them up with feel free to reach out to me.