Keeping Your Organization Safe Online

Man at iPad

Responsible Internet Use for Nonprofits

The Internet has revolutionized the way nonprofits communicate to their supporters, communities they serve and the general public. While the Internet provides nonprofits with instant, free access to information, it also makes organizations vulnerable to harm by people who don’t have the best intentions. The best defense is to teach staff and clients to use the computers registered to nonprofits wisely and safely. Nonprofits can provide a short course in Internet best practices, including citing sources and reporting abuse.

Internet Safety

  • Nonprofits should work with their email provider to create an appropriate spam filter.
  • Do not open emails or download files that are flagged as “spam” unless absolutely certain of the email’s source. Also, do not download files from unknown emails.
  • If using Microsoft Outlook, staff can configure the program to hide the reading pane. This is especially important when viewing the spam folder; if the reading pane is activated, it will automatically open spam emails. To turn off the reading pane in Outlook, go to View > Reading Pane and select “Off”.
  • When ordering products or downloading updates or software online, make sure the provider is reputable and the site is secure. If the site is secure, there will be a padlock icon at the bottom right of the window and the URL will begin with https.
  • Report abuse to the appropriate authority (website administrator, email provider, supervisor or human resources staff member).

Internet Etiquette

  • Follow the organization’s established Internet policy and only use the Internet for work-related purposes while on the clock. Refer to the established policy for Internet use while on break.
  • Avoid violating intellectual property rights by giving credit to the original source of content using the nonprofit’s established style manual.
  • Return emails in a timely manner. If out of the office for an extended period of time, it is advised to create an email signature that approximates when emails will be answered and includes alternative contact information for urgent emails.

Internet Safety Resources

The Internet Crime Compliance Center (IC3) is a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center. IC3’s mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop and refer criminal complaints.

Safe Kids maintains several Internet safety resources for nonprofits and community members who use nonprofit computer centers.