Monday, November 2, 2009

Services for Nonprofits to Help Through Tough Economic Times

Source: Nonprofit Advocate Oct 2009 Bricker and Eckler

In these difficult economic times, nonprofits are not alone. Various groups exist that can assist nonprofits in providing cost-effective solutions, increasing their technologic capabilities and improving their management services.
One such provider of assistance is GroundWork group, which bean as a concept in 2003 in response to a survey of Central Ohio nonprofits that identified “technology” as their top barrier to capacity building. Many nonprofits lacked Information Technology planning and services, which led to slower response times and inefficiencies in day-to-day operations and reporting. United Way of Central Ohio led a team of volunteers, nonprofit and IT professionals to create a solution that could address the technology concerns of the nonprofit community and deliver industry standard IT services and consultation for an affordable price. The unique approach was to go a step further than other providers by enhancing the ability of nonprofits to use technology resources through education.
The nonprofit GroundWork group began operations and incorporated in July 2005 and merged with CIVIC (Columbus Information Via Computer) in January 2008. GroundWork group brings together the nonprofit community, funders and IT and business leaders to collaborate on development of solutions that will make nonprofit organizations more effective through better use of technology. It was designed around the concept of shared services to reduce costs for all participants.
Today, GroundWork group serves its nonprofit members with a diverse spectrum of 30 technology, information management and education offerings from equipment, software and managed information technology services to website, online donations and data management solutions to technology assessments, IT training, nonprofit board development and technology funding proposal reviews. GroundWork group tailors each service package to meet the unique needs of individual organizations.
Still a young organization, GroundWork group has enjoyed success. It’s membership base has grown to more than 150 nonprofits, and they have placed more than 80 IT and business professionals onto nonprofit boards. GroundWork group has managed millions of constituent records and has provided thousands
of hours of technical support and training. Members have saved thousands of dollars through equipment and software procurement programs. GroundWork group has reduced members’ expenditures on IT while expanding their capacity to assist more residents of our community.
“GroundWork group is a trustworthy advisor in all matters of Information Technology for local nonprofits,” said John Hrusovsky, GroundWork group CEO. “We manage IT, so nonprofits can focus their time and dollars on their core mission.”
A recent GroundWork group technology project for the Columbus Urban League helped streamline the the league’s delivery. GroundWork group sent a field technician to work full-time at Columbus Urban League to perform activities including an overhaul of computer systems, alterations to the data backup schedule; enhancement of the accounting database procedure; re-wiring of the primary switch closet; replacement of network switches; installation of two new Wireless Access Points; and creation of a new Remote Access Procedure to increase network security. Please visit to learn more or to become involved.
Similarly, the Columbus Bar has been providing association management services to nonprofits for several years. Associations utilizing the Columbus Bar’s services maintain their independence, but they gain cost-effective solutions for billing, meeting space, technology, website administration, publications, discounts, services and more.
Many local or specialty associations are voluntary, and the volunteer leadership is pressed to devote meaningful time to basic administration such as sending out dues invoices and publishing newsletters. The Columbus Bar has the infrastructure in place to be able to offer these services for a fee, which allows the associations to use their time and talent to deal with bigger initiatives and membership recruitment.
“We’ve been at this a long time,” explains Columbus Bar Executive Director Alex Lagusch. “There is efficiency of scale in our delivering these services to other organizations who may be relying heavily on volunteers to do basic things like billing for dues and event registrations. For example, we already have the space to host meetings and seminars. Our facilities are convenient, comfortable and technologically equipped to handle just about anything. For the association using our space, it’s a nice advantage, because their members can get used to coming to one location - as opposed to meetings at various locations wherever the association might get a reasonable rate.”
There also also a nexus between the Columbus Bar and the organizations it serves. They are typically law-related, making it a positive relationship for everyone involved. The Columbus Bar is able to maintain strong relations with subsets of its members, and the organizations are able to provide better services to their members, while keeping dues low.
Nonprofits certainly should take advantage of
these organizations to assist in finding cost-effective solutions to running their operations.
If you have any questions, please contact Meredith K. Knueve at 614.227.4886 or


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