Walking into NEW’s npServ office, you’re met with the vision you’d expect to see in any IT department, an assortment of tools, computer parts and stacks of keyboards lining the shelves. What you may not realize is that this tiny office and the 4 incredible teammates within are not just the technological hub of NEW and the NEW Center, but of over 50 non-profit organizations. The difference between npServ and another outsourced IT service is simple. They’re a nonprofit too. They understand working on a shoestring budget while focusing on a mission rather than a profit goal. It shows in everything they do.
I was lucky enough to spend a morning with Justin Lunning (npServ’s director) and his team. I noticed a few things that were a bit different than your average IT company.
1. No Scripts – Admit it. You’ve called a help desk before. Your computer was on the fritz or your smartphone wasn’t working and you called an 800 number. You were met on the other end of the phone by a technician working off of a script. He or she was trained to use and run a pre-written list of diagnostic tests that led him or her (like a Choose Your Own Adventure book) to some semblance of an answer to your question. It took an hour to get your printer back online and print a report you needed for a meeting 45 minutes ago.
The npServ team doesn’t have a script. They have talented IT professionals that take a holistic approach to IT. “Your printer isn’t working? You need that report for a presentation in 15 minutes? Let’s reroute that document to another printer nearby. Grab it and get into your meeting. I should have your printer fixed by the time you’re done. Good luck and let me know how everything turns out.”
2. No Limits – Yes, there’s a specific set of things that NEW does. Sure, they focus on the basic day-to-day needs of clients, set up servers, and occasionally hold training sessions for non-profit staffers. With most organizations, that’s where the job would end. At npServ, that’s being a “C” student.
Justin and his team realize that they’re the technological life preserver for most of their clients. Most small non-profits can’t afford to pay a full-time IT professional. They may have volunteers and staff who are incredibly dedicated to this task and their mission, but lack the skills necessary to build a technology infrastructure or make important decisions on hardware and software purchases. npServ is always looking to expand their offerings/services with pilot programs ranging from web design to software development. In other words, the npServ team is the team you call when you realize that you have no idea what fundraising software you need and Consumer Reports doesn’t have a listing for Raisers Edge.
3. No Laziness – If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the phrase “that’s not my job”. While I was working with the team, I heard a great story about a non-profit moving from one office to another. The npServ team did something so outlandish that it requires repeating. They actually picked up things and moved them. Imagine that! In order to facilitate their job, the nonprofit’s mission, and the move itself, they physically moved objects from one place to another.
This may seem small and trivial, but it’s far from common. I’ve worked in a handful of corporate environments, and this is not the norm. It just shows the sort of care and personal touch that makes this team different from the others.
Written by Robb Drzewicki.
About Robb: Robb is the most recent addition to the volunteer corps at NEW. He’s a stay-at-home Dad with a degree in non-profit management who wants to spend what free time he has improving and expanding as many non-profits as possible. Working with the team at NEW seemed like the best way to share his experience and enthusiasm with a wide range of non-profit missions. His series of blogs will explore who NEW really is. We hope a fresh set of eyes will help us explain the NEW mission to a new audience.