Non-Profits and Technology Usage Survey
In order to learn more about the
information technology usage and needs of non-profit organizations, the City of
Seattle Department of Information Technology, in conjunction with King County's
Community Services Division and NPower, distributed a survey to approximately
700 organizations. As a part of the City's Information Technology Indicators
Project, this survey was designed to guide the City, the County, and other
funders in offering technology assistance to non-profits. The preliminary
results of the survey are presented here.
King County mailed their surveys to human service
providers in King County who are funded by King County Community Services
Division, United Way, and the City of Seattle Human Services Department. The
City of Seattle Department of Information Technology sent a shortened version of
King County's survey to a list of Seattle area non-profits compiled by NPower.
Whenever possible, the Department of Information Technology e-mailed surveys
using the survey tool "zoomerang.com." Those organizations with no
e-mail contact were sent a survey by mail. One reminder follow-up was sent via
to those organizations that were contacted via e-mail, but no other follow-up
was done. Organizations were given one month to reply, returning the surveys no
later than March 1, 2001. The overall response rate was 35%.
Size of Organizations
There were 238 non-profits with
offices in Seattle who responded to the survey. These organizations range in
size from 0 to 2500 employees. The average number of staff at these
organizations is 53 and the median is 10. Because of the range of sizes, the
median may be a better indication of the size of the responding organizations.
Size of Organizations by Number of
In many cases, the size of an agency's annual operating budget is a better measure of size than is the number of staff. Of the 238 Seattle organizations that responded to the survey, only 169 reported their annual operating budget.
The graph below shows the spread of organizations, based on their reported budget.
Size of Organizations by Annual
Size of Annual Technology Budgets
Technology Budgets range in size from $0 per year to $50 Million per
year. The 208 organizations that answered this question have
a combined technology budget of 58 Million dollars. However,
when you remove the one organization that reported a $50
Million technology budget, the other 207 organizations have
combined technology budgets of about 8 Million dollars. The
mean amount spent by these organizations is approximately
$38,900. Considering the spread of budgets, a better
measurement of technology budgets for the responding
organizations may be the median. The median reported by the
207 organizations is $5000 a year.
* Many organizations reported their
technology budget as a range. For the purposes of this
graph, the lowest number in the range was chosen.
Technology Planning and Support
Only two out of five (40%) of
organizations said that their agency has a technology plan.
Just over three-quarters of the
organizations (78%) say that they have reliable access to
technology support. A sampling of 139 of the organizations
that state they have reliable access to technology support
were asked for more information about this support. Almost 2
out of 5 (38%) organizations who report having adequate
access to technology support use a paid consultant. Just
other one-third (29%) use a volunteer.
Agency's Access to Tech Support
of Agencies with Access to Technology Support)
Access to Computers and the Internet
Almost all (97%) of organizations report
having at least one computer in their office.
When asked about their agency's use of computer technology,
more than 4 out of 5 organizations (82%) state that their
use is extensive, meaning that computers play an
"indispensable role in programs and
Use of Computer Technology
Almost all organizations surveyed have
Internet access (96%), and eight-six percent provide e-mail
addresses for their staff. More than four out of five (82%)
of organizations have a web page. Almost three-quarters
(72%) have a Local Area Network in their office.
Information Technology Access
Quality of Information Technology
of the organizations surveyed say that they do not have
enough computers for all staff who need them. More than a
third (37%), say that the computers that they do have are
not adequate for the tasks that staff need to perform.
Fewer than three-quarters (72%) of
organizations say that all staff who need to access the
Internet and e-mail are able to do so. Even fewer (65%) say
that their Internet and e-mail systems are adequate. Only
58% of respondents said that their current networking
situation was sufficient for their needs.
Quality of Information Technology
Respondents were asked to identify what
sort of training or assistance would help them use
technology more effectively. This was an open-ended
question, so results varied greatly between organizations.
The most regularly seen responses were basic training for
staff in software and hardware (35%), and the need for
increased technology support and troubleshooting (24%).
Other common responses included inexpensive access to
updated equipment and software (20%), assistance with web
page design and hosting (12%), and assistance with
database design and use (11%).
results presented here are only based on preliminary
analysis, and there is a need to perform further analysis on
this data in order to draw better conclusions about how to
best respond to organizations' technology needs. However,
these results do show some important gaps in technology
planning and training for non-profit organizations.
Although almost all organizations (82%)
said that their use of information technology is
"extensive" and indispensable to their program
operations and management, only 40% of organizations have a
technology plan in place. Many organizations reported their
technology budgets as estimates or ranges, which may
indicate a lack of tracking or varied definitions of what
the technology budget includes.
Organizations prioritize technology as
being essential to their work, and yet they are not finding
the funding to maintain their infrastructure and update
their equipment and skills. Many organizations commented
that the consultant or volunteer that they use for their
technology support is essential, but very expensive or not
available to solve the day-to-day problems that their staff
face. Troubleshooting and a lack of staff training remain
major needs for many organizations.