9 Effective Cyber Security Tips for Non-profit Organizations

Cyber security is placed side by side with cyber attacks and cybercrime. As much as we would like to think that nothing like that would happen to us, it happens when you least expect it, especially if you run a nonprofit organisation

Cyber security, though one of the things that people care less about, is one of the things that can jeopardise your organisation. Various hackers wait for you to use a less effective software to scoop in and steal your data and other information about your company. 

However, you can avoid these kinds of problems. For example, you can use nonprofit membership software, the encrypted one, to protect your data like a pro. 

This article discusses why nonprofits face more cyber attack risks and various cyber threats you should look for, and we shall also discuss multiple cybersecurity tips for nonprofits.

What Cyber Threats Does Your Nonprofit Organisation Possibly Face? 

If you are in the business world, you know how difficult it is to install nonprofit membership software in your company. But it takes work too. Since most of our work is online, all our data and information are exposed to the internet, whether it is a simple username to your Instagram account or chats. So, a security breach is always possible, known as a cyber-attack. 

But not all cyber attacks are about data breaches. Although some hackers may hack your network to steal, they can also hack the system. 

Usually, cyber security is of two types:

  • Cyberattack
  • Cybercrimes

Cyber attack: Cyberattacks mean doing malicious activities like hacking someone’s Whatsapp, spam messages, denial of services, malware, phishing, etc. 

Cybercrimes: Cybercrimes mean getting involved with unlawful activities like theft, credit card fraud, identity theft, etc. 

But if you have a nonprofit organisation, you will likely experience data theft more often than you would like. However, if you install encrypted software or observe the possible cybersecurity for nonprofits, you can avoid this undesirable problem. 

Why Are Nonprofits Prone To Experience Cyber Attacks?

Nonprofit organisations often deal with a lot of data involving personal information, employees’ information, various information about board members, staff, donors, clients, corporate partners, charities, fundraising, profit and loss. But the databases these organisations use are most of the time not protected. This makes nonprofit organisations a target of hackers. 

According to NTEN data, around fifty per cent of nonprofit organisations do not consider themselves a potential target. This illusion that they are safe since they make less profit makes them an easy target of hackers. 

Even though most nonprofit organisations become victims of cyber attacks and crimes, less than thirty per cent conduct vulnerability assessment tests. This lack of knowledge and consciousness can make nonprofit organisations and start-ups more vulnerable than they can imagine. 

What Are The Cyber Threats A Nonprofit May Experience? 

Though there are various cyber attacks your organisation may face, there are a few security thefts that every nonprofit organisation may be aware of. What are those? Let’s discuss that. 

1. Ransomware

Ransomware, does it sound like keeping someone hostage and asking for money? Well, instead of a person, the hackers hack your network and take your company’s data hostage. 

In ransomware, a hacker can hack your encrypted data and steal it. The only difference here is that the hacker can release the actual data in the public domain. But hackers usually refrain from doing this. Instead, their prime motive is to take money in exchange for not releasing the data on the internet. 

Ransomware has reportedly increased over the past few years, and it has become one of the easiest ways to almost bankrupt an already underdeveloped company. 

2. Data Theft

Data theft is one of the most common problems every big and small company faces nowadays. But let’s be honest; the risk is more significant for nonprofits.

You may have wondered why. As we have discussed earlier, a nonprofit organisation deals with data. But so do the big companies. As a result, their number of employees, revenue, and charities are much more significant than a comparatively smaller company. Not only that, but the number of donors is also more for big companies than nonprofits. 

The donors invest a lot in a small company by providing personal information. But when it comes to data theft, the problem is anyone can attempt data theft. Hackers or company employees can do that using authorised or unauthorised access. 

They can leak the company’s information and sell the data, leading the company to suffer more and future losses. 

3. Forced Downtime

Though it does not sound as big as stealing data and selling it to another company for profit, or stealing data and threatening a company to give money in exchange for not releasing the data, still, it can pose a threat to the company. 

Forced downtime includes not getting access to necessary information, not being able to know the volunteer schedule, missing donations, late website hosting, etc. 

You can face problems with SQL databases. Also, you can experience service denial and phishing. 

Tips To Stay Protected from Cyber Threats

We have already discussed why nonprofits experience cyber threats and some of the possible cyber threats. Now, let’s discuss some tips to stay protected from threats. 

1. Documentation

As technology is getting stronger, so are hackers. They always find a way to hack your system and use it for their benefit. But one reason nonprofit organisations face so much hacking is that they need a strategy. They randomly pour data into their database without even considering the possibility of hacking. 

But you can avoid this problem by creating a documented security policy, making the hacking difficult for the hackers. If you have a written policy, your staff can assume the possible trouble and act accordingly. Also, using donor boxes for nonprofits can become manageable if you become cautious. 

2. Take Care of Physical Security Risks

Though it sounds unlikely, physical security risks can pose a threat in more ways than you know. For example, most start-ups prefer to give their employees the benefit of working from home. So, employees may write down the username or password on a sticky note, making them visible to people. 

So, you can avoid the physical security risk by asking the employees to keep their working environment secure. You can also provide them with enough information about possible cyber threats. If you have any IT protocols, you can also discuss them with the employees during the onboarding process. 

3. Create Strong Passwords

When you run an organisation, you must deal with many emails, accounts, data, fund details, etc., and all of them need smooth running software. It is easy to understand that hackers can easily hack those. So what can you do? The solution is to create strong passwords. 

  • You can use LastPass to store the passwords. This tool can help you share the passwords among people working in that same company without disclosing the actual password. 
  • You can also use the pattern of creating a strong password like a few numbers, then a @, name or letters, etc., which is almost impossible for the hackers to anticipate. 
  • Multi-factor authentication is one of the most trusted ways of securing your network from cyber-attacks. It requires the users to enter a code to access an account or something else, making it less accessible to others and more complicated for hackers to reach. 

4. Install An Antivirus And Scan Your Device Regularly

You may not think it is necessary, but installing an antivirus is one of the first things you need to do to avoid hackers from hacking into your device. In addition, any reliable antivirus software may help you detect the malware or virus in your computer. So, this software can see if a hacker has hacked your computer or installed malware. Now, you can do what is necessary to get rid of that. 

Sometimes you can get an antivirus installed. For example, if you buy windows seven, you can get the already installed antivirus. You can also get good antivirus software and install it on your computer. 

But we suggest you not purchase any antivirus right away. Check its validity and then decide. 

Run the antivirus and scan your device regularly. Then, contact your IT experts to look into the problem if you find any problem. 

5. Activate Two-factor Authentication

If you have a nonprofit organisation, you cannot identify every hacker and request them to stop hacking. But you can strengthen your security protocol to keep them from accessing your data. One of the ways to secure your devices is to activate two-factor authentication. 

Usually, you need to provide the password to your device to access a device or all the data you have stored there. But, suppose any hacker has got hold of your password. Then, it will be easy for them to hack your device and steal all your data. So, what can you do?

You can decide to have a code generated on your computer or phone to use as an authentication process. So, even if a hacker gets the password until they have the device, they cannot hack your device, therefore, and therefore will fail to get access to all your data. 

However, do not use the SMS format to generate the code. SMS is a comparatively insecure way. 

6. Avoid Every Type of Transactions on Public wifi

Who prefers to use something other than free wifi in a public place? Whether you download an app or pay your bills somewhere, you often get free wifi in a public place. But it would be best if you were careful about this. For example, you must pay a lot of money to various people and places when you run a nonprofit organisation. But refrain from doing any transaction from a public place. 

Who knows, someone is shoulder surfing. If anyone gets to see the password, and if the password is not strong, it can jeopardise your entire organisation. We suggest doing all your transactions in a place where you feel secure. 

7. Use Cloud-based Software

Cloud-based software can be a solution to all your security problems. For example, if you have nonprofit software, you can encourage your employees to use cloud-based software because they are safer than desktop software. 

You can get various benefits if you use cloud-based software. For example, the software will encrypt your device’s data, scan your data regularly, and help detect problems. It will also encourage you to activate multi-factor authentication, keeping your data more secure.

It will also provide real-time updates to keep you secure and up-to-date. If your organisation needs IT support, you can lean on cloud-based software to provide security.  

8. Be Careful about Phishing Scam

Phishing emails are one of the most common and easiest ways to hack your device and steal your data. Phishing emails are those that look like legitimate ones. But they often contain links and attachments. If you click on that link or attachment, your information gets leaked, and your account can get hacked. 

So, whenever you get any phishing email, you can contact your IT support to check it first and then open any links or attachments. 

9. Protect Your Donor Data

Nonprofit organisations do not acquire wealth or do not earn millions of dollars within seconds. But they generate enough revenue to keep their business going. Various fundraising events and donation platforms are two of them. So, all the donation platforms must be secured because they provide sensitive information to that platform, trusting that the software is safe. 

So, you need a donation platform with a high level of encryption, having TLS or SSL encryption. You can also have multi-factor authentication to make it more secure. 

Remember, you are providing security to not only your data but also your donor; they are helping you to go ahead with your business. So, offer them the best security measure possible. 


Cyber threats are everywhere. Even a commoner can experience a hacked account on Facebook. But when it comes to a nonprofit organisation, it becomes an even bigger deal. If you are even a little careless about your data, it can become a blunder. So, follow all the tips about cyber security and adopt the best security measure possible.

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