Why Paywalls are Detrimental to Nonprofit Technology

Andrew VaethNonprofit Tech

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A nonprofit can find value in a technology designed just for them. For instance, a tool that allows for easy collaboration among nonprofit constituents can be extremely powerful. Yet, too often a paywall, or a limit to how many users can have a license for a certain price, denies access to users who need the technology.

In this instance, a nonprofit is likely to underutilize their chosen solution. Because nonprofits are comprised of multiple board members, volunteers and partnering agencies, a technology solution with limited access is unbefitting.

Follow along as we explain the paywall disadvantage.

The Executive Director can’t serve as the office messenger.

When you purchase a technology solution with limited licenses or paywalls, it often becomes the responsibility of the Executive Director (ED) to micromanage the number of users, logins and passwords.

It’s hard enough for an ED to oversee day-to-day operations—let alone serve as the office messenger for technical issues. With limited user accessibility, the following issues may arise:

  • Siloed communication due to disjointed processes. While some users have access to shared calendars, emails and conversations, others won’t, causing inconsistencies across teams.
  • Poor collaboration due to disparate systems. While some users have access to workspaces, articles and tasks, others don’t, making it easy to lose track of important assignments and deadlines.

This creates a headache for the ED, and a painful distraction from the overall mission.

Volunteers and board members come and go, making it difficult to nail down set users.

A nonprofit’s success is dependent on the network in which it operates. Without the support of volunteers and board members, it’s difficult for a nonprofit to propel its mission forward.

Not to mention, these groups often have their own day jobs and responsibilities to attend to. Therefore, it’s natural for a nonprofit to experience turnover. If a paywall exists within the solution, who does the ED grant access to?

Let’s take a look at an example: volunteers and board members.

  • Volunteers may ebb and flow throughout the year because they aren’t being paid by the organization. Therefore, they can choose when to support and when to sit out.
  • Board members weigh in on the organization’s major decisions and activities, but they can cycle in and out annually, with new members taking a seat on the board.

In these instances, it can be tricky to nail down the number of active users–and the number of user licenses to purchase–when selecting a nonprofit technology with paywalls.

Temporary users can spike unnecessary fees when paywalls are present.  

For many, a nonprofit is seen as a chance to volunteer. As great as it is to welcome newcomers, people come and go. And when this happens, it becomes extremely difficult to track temporary users—not to mention expenses.

For example, consider the following scenarios:

  • A task force is made up of multiple organizations, employees, members and volunteers working together to solve a complex problem. Between these various organizations, there are numerous people and projects to account for. Once the mission is achieved, members disband and return to their primary organization.
  • A fundraiser is an event held by a nonprofit to generate financial support from individuals, businesses and government agencies. During this time, multiple constituents come together to gather donations and resources. Once everything is said and done, these constituents aren’t as involved.

If the selected technology solution charges on a user-license basis, you may end up paying more out of pocket than you had originally set out to. This is because the ED likely purchased the software with a set number of users. As time passed and these new partners joined the mission, the organization exceeded the set number of users.

One way to prevent this is to ask these questions when implementing technology. And, all in all, avoid the hassle of paywalls.

From unnecessary fees to interrupted operations, technology that isn’t built with your organization in mind causes problems. Implement collaboration software designed specifically for nonprofits today. Get started for free here.


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