Guest Column | April 22, 2014

Five Things an MSP Needs To Know About Nonprofits

Selling Managed Services To Nonprofits

By Peter Hodges, Marketing Director, Marathon Consulting, ASCII Group Member Since 2009

The 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the US can be a rewarding vertical for MSPs to explore in their market. With some research and planning, nonprofits can be a satisfying and profitable addition to your client roster. Working with nonprofits devoted to solving today’s substantial issues can engage the hearts of your employees, boost your reputation with current clients and elevate your standing within your community.

Here are some notable items to keep in mind when approaching nonprofits:

Nonprofit structure can lengthen decision times. Nonprofits often need to get support from their board of directors and follow a defined vendor approval process before committing to a major project. While a number of nonprofits have the budget to spend on technology, you can expect to see a sufficient amount of time spent on proper due diligence. Checking in with your main point of contact for status updates and offering to provide information to support the benefits of the new investment can pay off in the long run.

Nonprofits think long-term when making large budget investments. Part of the reason for the longer sales cycle for technology is that nonprofits will often look to get the most out of a new technology project. They will need a new round of desktop computers or a network update to last as long as possible. Design your solution to give them as much flexibility and room to grow as you can.

Look to partner with nonprofits that inspire you. If you can find an organization that motivates you and your team, it’s easier to make a connection with the decision makers in their organization. What groups would you support with your personal time and money? This question is a good starting point to zero in on nonprofits to begin approaching as sales prospects.

Once you’ve found a niche that you like, become an expert in their needs. A focus on healthcare and hospitals will bring a number of extra requirements around HIPPA, data security and other specialized needs. Performing arts, education, foundations and other nonprofit clients will all have a unique set of problems they will need your help to solve. Spending time and effort to become an expert in the quirks of their daily needs will continue to solidify your status as the technology expert in that field. 

Adding selected nonprofits to your client portfolio can also be good external and internal public relations. When you partner with a nonprofit, some of the goodwill created by the organization is reflected on your business. Your work to support your community will help you stand out from your competition. Nonprofit clients in your book of business can also be an asset for recruiting and retaining Millennials. These younger employees frequently state that community involvement is an important piece that contributes to their overall job satisfaction.

When you demonstrate your value to nonprofit executives, you will often have a long-term client. Once you have proven yourself as a trusted partner, nonprofits frequently become reliable clients who will refer you to colleagues. Nonprofit executives are passionate by nature and can become new sales champions for your MSP when they clearly understand how your business contributes to their success.