They are definitely under the gun to keep up with current technology – social media, analytics, websites, etc. Rest assured, big opportunities exist for nonprofit organizations to use technology to deliver on their missions.But don't be fooled into thinking, just changing technology will yield the results you are probably looking for. It requires a change in approach, supported by technology.
Buying “new” simply for the sake of new is never smart. For example, a shiny new expensive road bike won't automatically provide you with the necessary skills to win your next triathlon, nor will buying new technology with all the bells and whistles transform your nonprofit organization. Every technology investment should result in savings and quantifiable improvements. Technology is only valuable if it results in faster, cheaper or better. If not, it just wastes time and money that can be used elsewhere.
So how do you go about getting the results you want?
Let your strategy drive your decisions. Many times, people think if they change their system their marketing results will greatly improve. Nonprofits should always think carefully and critically about the problem or challenges they are trying to solve.Take a close look at your operations and the technology you currently use. Determine what you should improve on. Advanced tools can transform the way you run your organization, but it's the way you manage the tools and people that use them that will unlock, or hold back their potential. If you want to win that triathlon, maybe you need to change what you eat and train more efficiently.There's much to consider when you're looking to make a change. If you are ready, and your strategy supports it, the following three steps should get the conversation started.
1. Evaluate where you can be doing better. Is your list growing, shrinking?How are you reaching potential supporters? Are you targeting and segmenting with the right message? Are you doing enough to leverage constituent data? What can you automate to make your job easier?
2. Formulate a plan to address those areas. People tend to get trapped by saying, "here's everything we want on our wish list that we may do someday,” but never really do. Focus on how you work each day. What activities or tasks do you do most? Where are the areas that you could use more support? Once you've identified what is working and what's not, you can begin to match technology to your needs.
3. Think Value.Now that you have a specific plan in place, look for a system that will get you there. Determine your technological shortcomings – too many bells and whistles can be complicated and expensive and you'll end up paying for functionality that you'll never use. Make sure you focus on what you need to get your organization from "a" to "b", with headroom for growth.Be sure there is guidance and automation functionality built into your system, after all, we are all understaffed. Keep in mind, the lowest cost is not always the best choice.
Looking in the mirror and discovering what you like and don't like about how your organization operates is not always easy. Nonprofits that take the time to acknowledge and embrace their strengths and weaknesses and match those skills to the right technology will be best positioned for success.
With more than 20 years in technology solutions and consulting, Blake Groves comes equipped with hands-on knowledge of sales, consulting, product management and marketing. For the last 10 years, he has narrowed his focus to how Internet technologies can help nonprofit organizations. Salsa for Nonprofits