This past weekend my wife, some friend and I went to Salt Spring Island. 

We left Friday night and arrived on an island with no electricity at all. That might not be a problem in most cases, but the house we were staying at was heavily reliant on electricity. The doors to enter the property were controlled via a code and a hydraulic gate. Needlessly to say, we couldn’t enter the property and were trapped outside trying to figure out how to enter or what to do if we can’t get into the house. 

Luckily we were able to squeeze through the gate and open a door from the inside. 

But that got me thinking, how much we rely on electricity or tech these days. From heavily relying on maps while driving to expecting websites to work all the time. One issue that comes to mind is one of the most important days in the year for a non-profit: Giving Tuesday.

It’s not strange to have critical systems go down due to a high number of concurrent users. These are inherited risks when dealing with technology and you need to have an action plan to deal with these or prevent them if possible. 

What can be some ways to mitigate these risks:

  • Be alerted right away when systems go down. We use a very cheap/​free tool called updown​.io. It pings are websites and other web services to make sure they are up. We get notified via email and slack whenever they go down. 
  • Stress-test your system. There are numerous tools to test your website’s capacity 7 Essential Cloud-based Load Testing Tools
  • Be online quickly. If your system goes offline, have procedures in place to get back online quickly. Who do you reach out, is it automated. 
  • Work with your donation partner. Find out your SaaS recovery procedures and typically support response times. 
  • Have other options. If everything fails, having a backup plan is a good idea. Set up a backup page to take donations through a different system.