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From: Lisa Schohl
Subject: How to Protect Your Nonprofit Against Cyberattacks
Recent data from the FBI shows that cybercrime compaints by organizations and individuals more than doubled from 2018 to 2022, and nonprofits are no exception. A recent hack of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, for example, cost the group
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Recent data from the FBI shows that cybercrime complaints from organizations and individuals more than doubled from 2018 to 2022, and nonprofits are no exception. A recent hack of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, for example, cost the group $7.5 million.
Experts say charities are just as vulnerable to attacks as businesses and government institutions, particularly because many nonprofits don’t prioritize cybersecurity in their budgets. Yet there are simple steps any organization can take to bolster their security — and doing so typically costs much less than the price of recovering from a hack.
My colleague Kay Dervishi explains such steps in her new article, What One Nonprofit Learned From Getting Hacked — and How Other Groups Can Protect Themselves. For example, it’s essential to train employees on cybersecurity and create a designated response team in case of an attack. Hackers often try to trick people into clicking malicious links or sharing sensitive information, and training can help staffers recognize and avoid these risks. Michael Enos of TechSoup puts it this way: “You can have the best systems in place, the best IT department, and then you can have a person who just didn’t know and innocently did something that caused one small crack in the infrastructure where something got through.”
Kay reports that every nonprofit, regardless of size, should have a plan to deal with cyberattacks. Even more helpful is to practice your plan, says Jim O’Keefe of Tech Impact, a nonprofit that provides technology services to other nonprofits. Use tabletop exercises, in which employees discuss how they would respond to simulated cyberattack emergencies, he suggests. Testing out scenarios can help your organization uncover any weaknesses in your current approaches.
As part of a plan, be prepared to notify your IT team and board of directors promptly in case of an attack, says Afua Bruce, principal of the consulting firm ANB Advisory Group. It’s important to loop in the board, she says, because cyberattacks can disrupt operations and affect your nonprofit’s reputation. “If you don’t have a cybersecurity response plan on the books,” Bruce says, “as with most disaster response, it’s more chaotic, more frenetic. [You] make more mistakes in responding and will often take longer to respond as well.”
Have a good week,
Senior Editor, Advice
Grant makers don’t often support “overhead” or increase their giving as expenses go up each year. Yet experts say nonprofits shouldn’t shy away from talking about the need for operational support or larger grants. Join us for Seeking Support for General Operations: What to Know to learn how to make a compelling case for support that positions your organization as strong and sustainable.
Finance and RevenueThe increase comes after a blockbuster year for the stock market, which defied gloomy predictions, and to an influx of large donations.
CybersecurityCybercrimes have doubled since 2018. But protecting organizations from hacks is increasingly easy and affordable.
OpinionA new study finds that aspiring leaders, especially those of color, aren’t being pulled into leadership through support and positive role models but are more often pushed into top positions to escape difficult work circumstances.
Donor EngagementDevelopment teams need a road map for staying in touch with supporters if they want to hit fundraising goals in a complicated year.
Elections20 foundations are speeding grants to protect voting and elections. Meanwhile, House GOP members are asking whether philanthropy is stepping into partisan politics.
OpinionWhile we can’t forget the past, a futurist approach ensures Black-led organizations can flourish for decades, not just a few years.
Tip of the Week
To zero in on your best donor prospects in a tricky economy, start with people close to your nonprofit. Donors and grant makers often prioritize their strongest relationships during a rough economy, so now’s the time to make sure your nonprofit is among those, says Catherine Flaatten, associate vice president of prospect development at BWF, a fundraising consultancy. Find creative ways to engage “friends” of your group and bring them closer, she adds. For example, look among supporters who have a current gift commitment with your nonprofit, search in your database for donors you think have a connection to a staff member or trustee, or reach out to your monthly donors. For more tips, read 10 Steps to Find and Prioritize Prospective Donors in a Volatile Economy.
New Grant Opportunities
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Companion Animals: Maddie’s Fund: 2024 Open Arms Challenge is open to animal shelters, foster-based organizations, and public charities focused on keeping pets and people together who want to increase inclusivity and provide a welcoming environment. The Challenge is an opportunity for organizations to pilot a new practice or expand upon a current program that has already been started, with the goal of increasing inclusivity and providing a welcoming environment for all staff (paid and unpaid) and community members. Registration period to participate in the challenge will be open from February 26 to March 6; $510,000 in grant prizes are available.
Visual Art: The Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program aims to advance the role of the visual arts in a more open and equitable society, and supports museum projects that foreground diverse experiences and perspectives to challenge accepted histories, elevate underrepresented voices, and promote critical conversations. Through its Responsive Grants, the American Art Program supports a wide range of collection-based projects that advance the understanding and presentation of art of the United States. No deadline for concept notes.