What to look for in an IT contract for not-for-profits

If you are working with a third party to support your IT environment, here's what to look for in your contract.
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Selecting the right third-party IT support is crucial for not-for-profits (NFPs) to ensure they receive the required level of support and service. This guide details what to consider in an IT support contract, focusing on workstations, servers, networks, and general software, alongside specialist applications like CRMs, client management systems, and other NFP-specific tools.

Key Elements of an IT Support Contract

Contract Duration and Renewal

  • Start and End Dates: Confirm when the contract starts and ends. Be cautious of automatic rollover clauses which could extend the contract without explicit consent.

  • Termination Clauses: Understand the conditions under which the contract can be terminated. Ensure these conditions are reasonable and not overly burdensome.

Scope of Services

  • Services Covered: Clearly define what IT support will be provided. This includes hardware and software support, network management, and specifics such as user training and general queries support.

  • Service Limitations: Identify what is not covered in the contract. This could include setup of new equipment, support for non-standard software, or outdated hardware.

Response and Resolution

  • Response Times: Ensure the contract specifies how quickly the provider must respond to different types of IT issues, particularly critical ones that could disrupt operations.

  • Resolution Times: Look for commitments on how long it will take to resolve issues. Understand the implications if these times are exceeded.

Financial Terms

  • Cost Structure: Understand all costs involved, including fixed fees, base fees for priority support, or charges for additional services outside of standard support hours.

  • Payment Terms: Check the payment schedule and what penalties exist for late payments.

Hardware and Software Coverage

  • Included Equipment: Ensure there is a clear list of the hardware covered under the contract, potentially including specifics about brand or age limitations.

  • Software Support: Confirm which types of software are supported, especially critical operational software like finance systems or HR tools.

Support Procedures

  • Support Channels: The contract should state whether support will be provided in person, over the phone, or remotely.

  • Support Accessibility: Verify that support is available during your organization’s operating hours and understand the procedures for emergency out-of-hours support.

Security and Compliance

  • Confidentiality Clauses: Ensure there are clauses that protect the confidentiality of your organization’s data.

  • Compliance and Standards: Confirm that the IT support complies with relevant Australian or New Zealand standards, including data protection regulations.

Review and Reporting

  • Regular Reviews: The contract should allow for regular performance reviews to discuss the service quality and any arising issues.

  • Documentation and Reporting: Expect regular reports on support activities, issues resolved, and areas needing attention.

Dispute Resolution

  • Handling Disputes: The contract should outline a clear process for resolving disputes, including timelines and mediation processes if necessary.


A well-drafted IT contract is essential for not-for-profits to ensure that they receive reliable and effective IT support that aligns with their operational needs. By understanding and negotiating the terms detailed in this guide, your organization can establish a productive relationship with your IT service provider.

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