Managing Knowledge Enables Nonprofits to Fulfill Their Mission
By Rachael M. Stark, Deborah Elizabeth Finn, and Kevin Palmer
Knowledge managementalso called KMis the process of choosing and using tools and systems to effectively gather, organize, share, and use information, of any topic and type, within and between individuals, organizations, and groups.
Signs that lack of knowledge management is undermining your organizations effectiveness include the following:
1) Organizational Commitment
KM need not be a huge and overwhelming task, but it does take ongoing time, effort, attention, and support. This can be difficult and tedious. There is no technology or tool that can replace the human effort involved. KM involves taking a hard look at the nonprofit organizations data, information, and knowledge with the goal of deciding what needs to retained and how the remaining information should be organized. It means that leaders, staff, and board members must commit to learning, using, and helping maintain the new structure.
Seek help and advice from experts who can play a bridging role in the nonprofit sector between the people who use information and technology and the people who create it. They can negotiate and translate between people and groups with different skills, perspectives, expertise, and terminology. Seek help and advice from consultants or staff members with skills in library science, knowledge management, and nonprofit technology strategy.
Matching the right tool to the right job is essential to managing knowledge effectively. For a large and complex organization, a large and complex commercial tool may make sense. For a very small organization, a well-designed and conscientiously used file naming system and spreadsheet may suffice. For nonprofits of medium size with medium sized information sets, KM tools specifically designed for nonprofits may be a practical choice. Nonprofits need to weigh the advantage of easier scaling in the futurewhen size of information may expand and complexity of information may increasewith systems that feel manageable in the present.
This article is based on a white paper developed by Annkissam, a Boston-based provider of technology solutions for nonprofits, authored by Rachael M. Stark, Deborah Elizabeth Finn, and Kevin Palmer.