Outsourced IT, or managed IT services, means placing some or all of your information systems in the hands of an outside technology consulting firm (or Managed Service Provider). In many cases, 501c3 nonprofit organizations will opt to outsource when they simply don’t want to handle their IT in-house, or when limited budgets put having an IT team on-staff out of the question.
When it comes time to consider outsourcing, one of the first questions to come to mind—across all industries—is how much it is going to cost. It’s a question we at Optimal have encountered over and over again over the past two decades, and one we’re always happy to explore.
As you can imagine, there are a number of elements to consider when it comes to figuring out what an organization’s specific investment will look like—especially given the software and support needs that are particular to nonprofits.
Below we will walk you through the main components of your outsourced IT investment, along with the costs that are associated with each piece.
What are the components of outsourced IT for 501c3 nonprofits?
As a general rule, managed IT services are billed on a usage basis; this means that you pay for the services you’re actually being delivered, and that your provider is responsible for delivering those services to you.
Here are the main components of outsourced IT for nonprofit organizations:
1. Infrastructure Maintenance/Management. This includes server monitoring and alerting (including patching and health checks), workstation protection (including patching, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and so forth), firewall management (including configuration backups and firmware updates), and managed backup and disaster recovery solutions. Since 501c3 organizations tend to hold onto equipment longer, and since replacement equipment is often donated (used), it’s especially important to keep these devices protected.
2. User Support. This can be on-site or remote, and delivered on an unlimited or hour-by-hour basis. When signing on for a support package, check to see if the engineers you’ll be working with have experience with your software solutions, be they donor management packages or otherwise.
3. Cloud Services. Cloud services can include file backups, hosted Exchange, or a full-on hosted desktop solution that removes both the capital expense and support burden of servers altogether; your provider will be the one responsible for the actual computing, security, and maintenance elements of your network.
4. Strategic Consulting. In some cases, an organization will engage a CIO-level consultant to help vet and implement a new Donor Management System, to coordinate with multiple vendors for large-scale upgrade projects, and to generally help align their technology decisions with their organization’s trajectory.
Generally speaking, managed service providers will allow you to subscribe to whichever services you need on an “à la carte” basis; if there are only certain gaps that you need to fill with outsourced support, you need not sign on for the entire spectrum of services.
What is the average cost of outsourced IT for 501c3 nonprofits?
What you invest each month depends wholly on the level of service that you subscribe to. Here, we’ll use a 50-person organization as a benchmark for what your costs may look like:
- 50-person organization
- 2 physical servers
- 40 aging workstations
- 750GB of data
- NeonCRM for donor management system
- Complete infrastructure maintenance (2 servers, 40 workstations, 1 firewall)
- Comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (all 750GB of data)
- Remote user support (all 50 users)
- On-site support (2 full days per month)
- Strategic consulting (1 half day per month)
Likely Monthly Investment: $8,000
If this same organization were to opt for a fully-hosted environment with an on-site component, they would be looking at closer to $10,000 per month for a hosted desktop solution (but without any more server upgrade projects…ever).
Keep in mind that 501c3 organizations can typically find software itself for next to no cost, and there are also many providers who offer special charity rates.
The price range is rather large, but so is the range of possibilities as far as service combinations and level of depth. Fortunately, we outsourced IT firms will remove the guesswork and provide you with a customized quote that details the services we recommend to suit your needs, and exactly what they will cost you each month.
All you need to do is ask!