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Knowledge Management in non-profit organizations

1 December 2021
Yanina Dayan

Non-profit organizations, by definition, are seemingly a realm in which Knowledge management should be deemed irrelevant. They are not competitive and do not seek to maximize their profits. While this might have been true several years ago, their situation is entirely different nowadays.

Nowadays, there are many such organizations. This, in turn, has led to fierce competition, Organizations compete over donors’ (be them private or corporate) money as well as the beneficiaries themselves, as many organizations offer similar services.

To survive in this competitive world, non-profit organizations must act in various ways, which include (among others) managing their knowledge.

The need for KM is enhanced by two factors:

  1. a high turnover of volunteers

  2. a lack of organized technological infrastructure on said volunteers’ personal computers.


Practices for Knowledge Management implementation in non-profit organizations:


  • Simplicity and intuitiveness: to deal with the quality and high turnover of volunteers and working outside and in addition to standard work hours.

  • Separation between KM solutions for the possibly steady (and even paid) team of staff workers and volunteers. These are naturally more temporary and should not be exposed to all the knowledge.

  • Document Management solutions: methodologies and practices. Enhanced use of tagging lists and other utilities – anything to prevent us from reinventing the wheel.

  • Basing the organization’s operation, if possible, on free digital platforms and tools that enable better sharing and can be easily accessed by everyone. Avoid paying for licenses for each volunteer and the financial and Bureaucratic it entails.

  • Occasional brainstorming to retrieve knowledge learned in the field, document it and incorporating into the methodology.

  • Events and milestones in which lessons from the organization’s experience will be learned proactively. This is an important tool for creating the organization’s collective knowledge, and a competitive tool to maintain constant improvement.


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