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Risks to Nonprofits from Mobile Devices

To recruit top talent, nonprofits need to fight differently than for-profit companies. Nonprofits lack the high salaries, benefits, and perks that for-profits offer. What nonprofits can offer to attract and retain talent is a flexible work policy. 9 out of 10 workers say they would like to telecommute at least part-time.

The number of full-time employees (not self-employed) that regularly work from home has grown over 100% since 2005. Increasingly more companies are offering telecommuting policies for their employees. While flexible work is ideal for employees, the employer is put at risk. If nonprofits are aware of the risks and safeguards against them, implementing a flexible work policy can be an excellent recruiting and retention tool.

With 90% of nonprofits using some sort of cloud solution for their IT needs, many employees are using applications on their personal mobile devices. The problem is a personal device can be lost or stolen and as a result, the organization’s data and passwords are compromised.

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Loss of mobile devices is not the only issue putting nonprofits at risk. Data breaches can occur when employees use their mobile device on public WiFi and open unencrypted emails. Hackers are trolling to take advantage of these lapses in security.

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center, states other mobile risks include workplace safety, labor laws, and wage and hour risks. For example, texting and driving can be just as dangerous for the employer as the employee if the employee is texting for work purposes. Hourly employees make the organization liable for overtime pay if they are using their mobile device for work matters off the clock. Nonprofits should think of all the possible risks that come with mobile devices and address them in a mobile device and remote work policy.

The National Council of Nonprofits has some practice pointers for nonprofits offering a remote work policy. One of the pointers is to ensure that the expectations are the same for telecommuting employees as they are for employees who work in the office. Any custom arrangements should be reviewed with legal counsel.

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Source: IBM 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study

Both the Nonprofit Risk Management Center (NRMC) and the National Council of Nonprofits are great resources for nonprofits on a number of issues. The NRMC has several tips for creating policy and procedures that protect the organization. Below are a few of the highlights.

Have a Clear Mobile Device Policy

Include personal rights and IT security procedures.

Train Employees on Data Security

Educate employees in protecting work information when accessing it remotely.

Don’t Forget to Wipe Devices

When an employee leaves an organization, it is important to make sure any work-related apps are cleared from their devices.

Offer a Switch Mode

There are resources that will allow employees to switch between work and personal mode on their mobile devices.

The use of mobile devices for work is now commonplace which has led to more people working away from the office. A study of Fortune 1000 companies found people were not a desk at least half of the time during the day. Nonprofits can keep current employees happy and attract talent looking for better work-life balance by offering the benefit of flexible work arrangements. These flexible work arrangements do come with risks, but if nonprofits take the necessary steps to prevent them, a culture of trust will ultimately be formed.


Last Updated: On February 27, 2019