Running a nonprofit is not easy, and most team leaders could use some help to optimize the work that allows them to fulfill their missions.

One of the most reliable yet under-used tools in the nonprofit sector is technology.

Statistically, only 11% of organization managers are happy with the way they are using innovation in their work.

To help the remaining 89% get up to full speed in technological adoption, we will review its benefits and lay out a step-by-step implementation plan.

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What challenges do nonprofit managers face?

When managing a nonprofit, there are a lot of challenges managers will have to face. Let’s talk about the most impactful ones:

  • Financial feasibility: since nonprofits don’t directly generate revenue, staying sustainable is a number-one worry for organization managers.
  • Recruitment and talent retention: it’s hard to attract and keep skilled teammates onboard. As a result, in the nonprofit world, having responsibilities outside your job description is “the new normal”.
  • Lack of organization management tools: few organizations have a technological infrastructure robust enough to fully support the team’s efforts.
  • Legitimacy: there’s a lot of skepticism around charity these days. Many point to The New York Time’s 2012 coverage of a story on fake orphanages in Haiti. Such scandals make it harder for nonprofit managers to engage supporters.

How can nonprofits benefit from adopting tech?

The case for technology in the nonprofit world is strong – here are just a few reasons to consider introducing innovation to your team.

  • Improved transparency: in the nonprofit environment, with more transparency comes more donor trust. The National Council for Non-Profits encourages managers to keep clear financial records, executive compensations, travel policy, and other internal processes within the organization.

Technology can streamline and organize all of this information in a way that makes it easier to generate and share reports later with stakeholders.

  • Higher quality donor engagement: communication and marketing technology encourages nonprofit managers to step up their game in reaching prospective supporters.

This includes charity streams, social media ad campaigns, effective donor management CRM systems, and fundraising.

  • Secure data: to build an impenetrable defense for sensitive information, both the National Council For Non-Profits and Microsoft advocate for switching to cloud storage, setting up firewalls as well as reliable intrusion reporting systems.
  • Scalability and internal efficiency: By automating day-to-day workflows team leaders will improve the organization’s productivity and will be able to seize growth opportunities.

Tech giants like Google and Facebook and their wealthy employees are leading to more grants and donations in philanthropy than ever before. Americans gave nearly $428 billion to charity in 2018 with around $76 billion of that coming from foundations and an additional $20 billion coming from corporations.

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A step-by-step guide to build a technology adoption strategy for nonprofits

Technology is a powerful lens through which nonprofit managers can connect with donors, partners, and build teams that work like well-oiled machines.

If you feel overwhelmed by the need to map your organization’s digital transformation, check out these guidelines to bring innovation into a nonprofit infrastructure.

Step #1 Be clear about your goals

nonprofit tech bullseyeSource

It’s much easier to discover the application points for technology in your nonprofit’s infrastructure when you understand your organization’s position, missions, goals, and presence in relation to the industry.

To define them, you should:

  • Frame the organization’s mission and vision, target audience, and the field you work in.
  • Define high-level objectives you want to reach with technology.
  • Elaborate on dependencies and constraints that might hinder your goals.

Step #2 Define your target audiences

On the one hand, nonprofit managers need to attract skilled people who would be willing to volunteer. On the other hand, they need to create a donor communication strategy to secure a steady stream of donations.

First, target volunteers confidently:

  1. Be clear on the role you want volunteers to fill. “Volunteer” is not a job description—be specific by adding descriptive titles like “Communication”, and adding specific responsibilities of the role. Make sure to emphasize the “perks” of the volunteer activity, such as the work environment and meals, if any, and of course the impact of their time.
  2. Determine how you will incentivize and compensate volunteers. Put a budget cap to make sure you don’t hire a large team that’ll put a monetary strain on the organization.

Nonprofit managers can approach the second goal by segmenting donors into two groups:

  1. Low-number, high-volume donors: contributors who make high-dollar contributions to the organization.
  2. High-number, low-volume donors: the supporters who don’t donate as extensively and are typically middle-class community members passionate about the cause of the organizations.

Step #3 Build a powerful infrastructure

In order to juggle the operational and marketing needs of being a successful nonprofit, going online is a necessity. Follow these tips to prepare for the transition:

  • Outline communication tactics and tools you plan on using to make a presence.
  • Outline the typical cycle for a prospective donor so volunteers and team members can visualize and follow their work in the pipeline.
  • Define conversion metrics that distinguish one cycle status from another.

Step #4 Choose the right tool

After you created elaborate mechanisms for connecting with donors, managing the team/volunteers, and have a clear vision of your goals, it’s time to find a tool that will support the organization’s workflow. Project management software is a great place to start. Work OS: the smart way to manage your nonprofit workflows

monthly team planning

Rather than scattering the team’s attention over various platforms, nonprofit managers should try to narrow the range of tools they use. A dynamic platform such as a Work OS enables nonprofits to bring all aspects of their workflows into one platform— from project management to volunteer scheduling and request forms, the whole team can see what’s being worked on.

Let’s explore how a Work OS like can optimize the workflow of nonprofits:

3 advantages of a Work OS:

  • Cost reduction: building custom apps that fit your team’s internal processes to a tee is cheaper than investing in a wide toolset. And, by consolidating some of your other project management tools into one, you could save.
  • Ease of use: to create complex workflows on a Work OS, teams don’t need to be skilled coders in order to utilize the no-code, low-code features, and capabilities. The flexibility is perfect for when a plan changes or a team expands.
  • Data centralization and security: Store key documents and data in one accessible and secure place for all. You can even use your Work OS as a secure CRM system for donors.

Top Work OS features for nonprofits

  • Automation recipes to save time
  • Hundreds of integrations with file editors, CRM tools, and other relevant software
  • Sleek data visualization dashboards to get a big-picture view of the organization’s activity
  • A robust range of permissions and governance settings
  • Task progress tracker for keeping an eye on the team’s efficiency

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Step #5 Monitor success

Finally, after executing your digital strategy, it’s time to see how well it performed. Technology makes it simpler and more accurate to identify shortcomings and work on leveraging the full potential of the organization.

Here are a few helpful strategies:

  • Group all metrics into three categories: impact, activity, and capacity
  • Track the return on digital investments to leverage the potential of high-performance channels and cut off those that had no noticeable impact on conversions.
  • Take time into account by monitoring how much time it took to execute digital strategy tactics; choose those that brought the highest yield and took the least amount of time.

Tech as the gateway for taking care

On the path to making a difference and advocating for noble causes, you will meet organizational and communication challenges. A reliable way to mitigate them is by implementing technology.

With the help of digital project management tools, nonprofit team leaders can make the most out of their teams, manage their donor database, and create an environment for consistent growth.