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Crosstraining in Technology

Nonprofits tend to be extremely resourceful organizations. Who else can leverage a few donations and some good will into a massive fundraising campaign, for example? The people who work in nonprofit organizations are some of the most creative and versatile, too. While this can be quite a boon to an organization, it can also become a pitfall.

The generous and ingenious nature of nonprofit employees means that many will often take on tasks not normally outlined in their job descriptions. It's not unusual for a program manager to help out in the warehouse or for a volunteer assistant to enter donor information into the database. Everyone pitches in to help where their abilities and time allow them to be the greatest help.

Unfortunately, this can cause some difficulties. It can lead to a (real or imagined) overstepping of boundaries. It can likewise lead to a certain amount of resentment, both from the employee who may feel he is doing more than his fair share, and from the person whose space he must literally or figuratively invade to get the job done.

One of the often overlooked problems of this system is the fact that one person can become too important when it comes to technology. If you have an individual who is able to magically get the scheduling software to work when no one else can, it seems like a blessing. However, when that person gets a great job offer and jumps ship, you are now left with no one who can make appointments.

This can be especially painful if the person has been helping out in different departments. If you always call on the administrative assistant to get the postage meter to work, to remember the codes for the accounting software, and to navigate the system to print donor thank you letters, your organization could come to a standstill should she get hurt, take a vacation, or decide to change jobs.

Cross training employees in technology is extremely important to keep your organization running. At the very least, consider having your go-to person create a FAQ to help with some of the most common issues. Better yet, set up some actual training sessions wherein she can teach coworkers how to use the technology that is so vital to what it is that you do on a daily basis.

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