Using volunteers for ICT support

Quality, sustainable and reliable ICT support and advice is essential to ensure NFP organisations don’t waste money or the valuable time of staff and volunteers. If you are not satisfied with your ICT support and advice, this should be addressed before working out new ways in which you can use technology.

To maintain some continuity in ICT support, all organisations should have:

  1. one or more volunteers or discounted service providers who can perform many of the basic ICT tasks required by the organisation
  2. a paid member of staff with designated responsibility for ensuring that documentation exists and is maintained about the ICT environment (they don’t need to be able to support your ICT environment)
  3. a member of the board or governance committee who can be relied upon to educate other committee members about ICT and provide some independent advice and guidance about ICT to both the manager and the person responsible for running ICT in the organisation. Note that this role can sometimes be combined with the strategy above, and even (for short periods of time) the first strategy when your ICT person leaves the organisation
  4. a trusted external provider who can offer extra support (for a fee) when the tasks are more complex, or when the organisation loses access to internal resources (it may be pertinent to have the provider sign a confidentiality agreement).

It is useful to document the specific ICT responsibilities of the manager, board member and volunteer. This formalises the roles and can help to ensure accountability for ICT knowledge capture and transfer.

However, a common question is how can we improve our ICT support when we can’t afford to pay? Unfortunately there is no magic solution. However, there are some low cost-options you can consider:

Having a trusted external provider is particularly important. Every organisation that relies on technology needs someone they can call upon when required (whether it’s to remove a virus, advise on whether to upgrade their email or fix a difficult technical problem).