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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Do Non-Profits and IT Specialists Mix?

While certainly not the most financially rewarding arena for IT specialists, non-profit organizations can be a viable market for those looking to increase their capabilities.

The two main pros for IT specialists of working with non-profits are the following:
1. They are easy to work with because they belong to trade groups, and you can gain access to public directories.
2. You can get incredible amounts of non-monetary rewards knowing you are working to help support a particular important cause.

Unfortunately, in working with a non-profit organization you face the very real possibility of small profit margins and messy bidding wars. Both these downsides can reduce your firm to an impersonal commodity and diminish your ability to quote a realistic solution for the organization.

Non-profits and government bids can create quite a predicament for IT specialists, and selling to the private sector and small businesses is certainly easier and much more predictable. Unfortunately, most non-profits and government entities must legally take the lowest price, so you might lose the battle after great effort, even if your services and ideology fits best with the organization.

When you get involved in bidding wars, your personality, credibility and the amount the non-profit or government agency trusts you mean next to nothing. It comes down to getting the bid in on time, playing by the rules of the bidding game and matching the price they can pay or coming in underneath it. Bidding also requires a lot of work upfront for which you will never be paid, which can lead to frustration and doesn’t always get you the job.

The key to working with a non-profit or government agency as an IT specialist is to be both wise and reasonable. The pay-offs can be great if you secure a relationship with the organization, but don’t plan to bet everything on it. Your chasing time for the bid shouldn’t exceed 20% of your business development efforts. Unless you only cater to non-profits or government agencies, the majority of your time should be spent marketing to traditional private sector small businesses.

Posted By: Computer Consulting Kit