Nonprofit Technology and Your Organization’s Long-term Success

Lou
Kotsinis

Although it’s taken a while, more nonprofits and socially-conscious organizations are embracing a digital-first mindset towards their marketing and operations. They’re realizing that the purposeful use of nonprofit technology, digital tools and online advertising is the most effective way to engage their supporters and stakeholders, as well as to manage critical functions like staffing, fundraising and membership development.  

The organizations positioned to thrive in the coming years are those that go beyond simply adding “digital marketing” to their planning. These nonprofits are increasing their competitive advantage by integrating nonprofit technology into the very architecture of their organization. 

Here’s a look at what the best in the industry are doing now to ensure their future success, and how you can too:

Think Long-Term 

Staying competitive and relevant are concepts normally associated with for-profit companies and brands. After all, nonprofit organizations’ foundational missions remain more or less the same year over year, so they’re safe, right?  

But nonprofits are just as vulnerable to becoming irrelevant if they lack the ability to compete over time. They vie for funding, talent, volunteers and attention. Well-run nonprofits recognize that success in the long-term means making the best use of what technology has to offer. To that end, they:

  • Make it a priority to invest in future planning. You won’t get where you want to go if you can’t see the road ahead. Take a step back with a wide-angle lens to understand what your organization’s functional and promotional needs will be 3 and 5 years out. Where are your opportunities for growth? 
  • Adopt a digital “culture.” Organizations that embrace a digital-first mindset invest in digital expertise at the senior management level, and integrate technology consistently across every department and throughout the user experience. 
  • Invest in a true assessment of your digital needs. Resist chasing the latest trends, digital platforms or other shiny objects until you know it’s the right technology for your organization and the best use of your resources.  

Think Holistically

Until recently, we could confidently advise clients that a WordPress website would suit most of their needs. But nonprofits are seeing an enormous increase in the functional demands placed upon them–everything from the need to raise funds online, efficiently maintain up-to-date lists of supporters, sell products and services, renew memberships, accept and approve grants, and so much more.  A WordPress website with a few plugins may no longer make the grade.   

Fortunately, the market has responded with sophisticated products, platforms and technologies to handle these needs.  But integrating technology doesn’t mean chasing after the latest tech, or piecemealing DIY solutions to solve complex challenges. 

Rather, effective use of technology should follow a strategic roadmap, one that takes into consideration the organization’s goals and where it sees itself 5 and 10 years down the line. Smart, mission-based organizations are assessing the landscape holistically, considering all of their stakeholder’s needs, and emphasizing a smooth and efficient user experience for their supporters. The tech itself is not as important as what it can do, which is to empower your team and improve the way your organization delivers on its mission.

Invest Wisely

If the idea of investing seriously in digital infrastructure makes you a bit anxious, you’re not alone. A culture shift in any organization takes time, planning, resources and most importantly buy-in from stakeholders. Take a look at our guide to persuading your board and executive team to consider investments in digital And In the meantime, think about this: 

  • The reality is that by not making technology a priority, you’ll be missing opportunities: to increase impact, bolster transparency and strengthen bonds with supporters. There will be an ever-widening gap between nonprofits that neglect to embrace technology and those that do. Show stakeholders how an investment in technology will better help the organization fulfill its mission at all levels. 
  • Prioritize grants and fundraising campaigns that can provide the necessary capital to make crucial infrastructure investments. A commitment to a technological renovation is a marathon, not a sprint, and that mindset may help to manage expectations throughout the process. 
  • Nonprofits are not often equipped with the internal staff to implement, advise and educate in this area. Seek assistance, the guidance of a consultant, or other expertise to determine how time and resources can best be deployed. 

The Time to Act is Now

Ten or fifteen years ago, did any of us imagine we’d use our phones to view a video from our favorite cause on a platform like Instagram? And then with one simple tap of a button make an instant $20 donation? And ten seconds later receive a thank you text for that donation? 

Technology will continue to evolve and provide opportunities for growth.  Demands on nonprofits will only increase. The right nonprofit technology will help your organization remain vibrant and relevant, operate efficiently and increase revenue. 

Take the long view. Invest the time, talent and capital in the right technology for your nonprofit now and ensure its long-term success. 

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