Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits: Training staff (and board) on new technologies


This is the eighth in a series of articles addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

In our blog series, we have been writing about a variety of tech challenges unique to the nonprofit world. Technology is evolving at a rapid clip and becoming more accessible allowing even the smallest nonprofits to utilize enterprise technology solutions that used to be available to only the largest organizations just a few years ago. Today’s technology can create efficiencies that allow your employees to be get more done in less time – and with less investment in infrastructure. However, a new solution may cause more harm than good if your team does not appreciate its benefits or understand how to use it.

While the benefits of the new technologies may be evident to you, they are not always immediately embraced by the team and can cause disruption if proper tech training is not part of the roll-out. According to “Why smart people resist new technology,” published in, “...the more someone has invested in the old way of doing things, the more they will resist the change. The problem is that those people are often the most productive, engaged and successful workers, with the most invested in keeping things the way they are…Unless organizations, with the help of vendors, trainers and the like, understand why people will or won’t use a technology, they will continue to struggle with getting the results they seek.”

Before rolling out any new technology, it’s good to be aware of some of the top reasons employees may resist the change:

1) they don’t see the benefit to themselves; 2) they think what they use now is working fine; 3) they are unsure if they will understand how to use it; 4) they have been through technology changes that did not go smoothly.

Ultimately, the question that needs to be addressed to get buy-in is how the benefits of the new tool (time, money, ease of use, efficiency) outweigh any inconveniences (training time, confusion, rework) that come with implementing a new system.

So now that you are aware that your team might not be as enthusiastic about this great, new advancement in technology, what do you do to get your staff on board? 

Tech Soup suggests 10 tips on how to ensure a good, quality tech training experience that will bring people along:

  1. Just Do it. It may seem like a simple change, but train anyway. A stitch in time really does save nine.

  2. Know what you want people to learn. Plan out your learning objectives in advance and clearly outline (even in quick bullets) what you want people to know when they are finished.

  3. Incorporate best training practices. Utilize multiple learning devices: audio, visual and tactile.

  4. Keep it friendly and have fun. Create a friendly environment where people feel safe to ask questions we’re all too embarrassed to ask. Chances are, others have the same questions .

  5. Use real world examples. Talking about tech specs will put people to sleep. Put the learning in terms of what your team does everyday and make it relevant. They will catch on faster and people will be awake for the whole training.

  6. Give people a chance to practice. Practice really does make perfect. With tech, there’s often multiple steps and mechanical memory makes a difference in learning a new program. Once we’re comfortable, 10 steps can feel like one, but when learning, one step can feel like 10. So take your time and let people feel out the software or new device for themselves. It allows them to ask questions while they use it, and make yourself available to answer the questions.

  7. Provide handouts and documentation. Most new devices and software have printable FAQs that you can hand out. People may understand while they’re in the training moment, but when they finally get back to using the technology in their everyday work lives, they may forget simple steps. Having a hand-out to refer to will jog their memory and improve their ability to utilize the features.

  8. Break it down into manageable chunks. Training can happen in sections, and on multiple days. Breaking the tech training down means you can better fit it into everyone’s busy schedule while also enhancing your team’s comprehension.

  9. Gather feedback and evaluate. Put together a quick survey so people can tell you what they did and did not understand, how useful the training was, etc. This will help ensure people understood what they were learning, and whether the presentation was effective.

  10. Don’t do it all yourself. There may be some tech savvy people in your organization who would be honored to be tapped to train their peers on the latest new gadget or program. This shows the individual – and your team – that you have confidence in their abilities, positions them as a “go to” expert for questions and takes some of the project off your plate. 

We would like to add two more tips to Tech Soup’s list...

  • Obtain leadership buy-in prior to roll-out. Managers know their staff best, and are typically responsible for ensuring the solutions in their departments are adopted. Take the time to meet with them, hear their concerns, learn about what challenges their staff are facing, and work together to build a technology and security infrastructure that is both practicable and useful.

  • Review IT protocols. When you have your team together to learn a new technology, use the opportunity to review data security protocols and your IT policies.

There are several ways to approach tech training. Makers of the solution usually have  printed training manuals or online self-paced training videos. and Grovo, online training services, offer online workplace training on hundreds of topics for a number of solutions, from CRM training to spreadsheets and even time management techniques. You may want to consider taking your staff off-site to a classroom setting to conduct the training with expert trainers. NYIM is a computer and software training center in New York City that offers customized corporate training and group classes.

Sinu is always available to help our clients select the appropriate new technology to meet their needs and help your find the right training tools so that everyone in your organization benefits from the latest, streamlined solutions. Because, we believe...people matter, objects don't.