Emerging Information Technology and Knowledge Management Capacity for Nonprofit Organizations

Emerging Information Technology and Knowledge Management Capacity for Nonprofit Organizations

Mohammad Anwar Rahman (Department of Industrial Engineering Technology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA), Abu Raihan (Non-Profit Organizational Management Specialist, Public Health, Bangladesh) and Rajitha Nakka (Supply Chain and Logistics Technology, Houston, TX, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijpada.2014100104
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Advances in information technology (IT) improve functionality for major nonprofit organizations. Due to increased expectations, service needs and peer competition, nonprofits must prepare to incorporate IT-related resources such as emerging technology planning, web- based collaborative processes and constrained resource planning to obtain technological innovation and higher performance. The effective use of constrained resource management is crucial for the success of nonprofits. Although nonprofit organizations are familiar with common IT resources and applications, wide application of new methods and technology is required to build inter-dependent information resources and real-time decision making capacity. Nonprofit resource planning such as tracking inventory level, planning replenishment, and receiving continuous information updates can be measured through enterprise resource planning (ERP) and electronic supply chain (e-SC) management. IT implementation of ERP and e-SC in nonprofits contribute to improve collaboration among donors, partner organizations, governmental agencies, staff members, volunteers, local experts, clients and recipients. This article addresses critical IT procedures and emerging IT practices to improve nonprofit performance. The overall goal is to focus IT implementation in nonprofits to develop road maps to guide organization pathways, track progress and measure success for public services.
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1. Introduction

Integration of information technology (IT) improves functionality for nonprofit organizations. Strategic planning for emerging information technology may be challenging, but rewarding, if it is connected meaningfully. The strategic goal of a nonprofit organization is fulfillment of its social mission to the creation of public value (Moore, 2000). It is widely accepted that IT makes nonprofits more resilient and supports improvement of public values in effective ways. The key enablers are technology and trust by which nonprofits can establish relationships between partners and make collaborative plans to play a better role in providing the public services. While nonprofit organizations generate surplus revenues, the organizations must retain revenues for development of road maps to guide organization pathways, self-preservation, expansion, to track progress and measure success. Strategic planning for information technology applications using the Internet, social media communications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) methods and electronic supply chain (e-SC) management can guide nonprofits to move forward, improve operational roles and manage challenges.

A nonprofit organization (US), not-for-profit organization (UK and others), non-commercial organization (Russia and CIS) or non-governmental organization (India) is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. In Canada and many other countries, social missions are also called charity giving away to others. Anheier and Salamon (2006) defined nonprofit organizations as private, self-governing, non-profit-distributing, and non-compulsory. The administration structure of a nonprofit organization also impacts the IT planning. Two types of nonprofit structures are commonly known, membership and board-only. A membership organization elects the board from the members, who regularly meet and retain the power to amend the bylaws. A board-only organization typically has a self-selected board, and organization members retain limited powers as they are delegated by the board. The nonprofit may also be a trust or association of members. Nonprofit organizations, unlike business corporations, are not subjected to making market plans for products and empowered to distribute the capital share. However, the tremendous growth of information and communication technology, potential working relationship with various corporations and businesses, obligations for transparency and sustainability, will drive nonprofits to strategic IT planning to track daily activities and progress and establish a direct information network with the business sectors.

Nonprofits comprise governing bodies, board members, paid and unpaid staff, volunteers and executives who work with or without compensation. Some nonprofits are a charity or service organization; some are organized as a not-for-profit corporation, or as a trust, while few others exist informally as a social service provider. A foundation is very similar to a nonprofit organization, and is typically endowed by an individual or family. A rebuttal to nonprofit functions may happen as nonprofit organizations grow and seek larger donations. Consequently, the degree of scrutiny increases and the expectations of audited financial statements grow. Besides the heightened scrutiny, nonprofit organizations are working in an era of greater challenges, diverse demands, fewer resources, and increased competition (Burt & Taylor, 2003). Information technology has been suggested as a way for nonprofit organizations to address these challenges (Elliott et al., 1998; Burt & Taylor, 2000, 2003). There are increased competition among nonprofits to seek funds, and donor organizations often decide which nonprofits are more suitable for collaborative partnership based on thematic sector, targeted geographic region and type of IT support (Sattar & Baig, 2001).

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