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How to Adapt to the Digital Future for the Not-For-Profit Sector

Nonprofit organisations are under increasing pressure to innovate to generate better outcomes for their customers, clients, and the communities they support. Throughout the unprecedented times of the pandemic, the nonprofit sector has realised the need to innovate their fundraising activities and management, admitting they are now forced into harnessing the power of digital technology and social media in today’s digital age.

Operating in an ever-changing market requires constant vigilance, but at the same time, nonprofit organisations need to stay true to the vision and values of organisations providing social good outcomes. 

The nonprofit sector operates on tight budgets, so the cost of the latest technologies for social change management can be prohibitive. However, effective use of digital technology can improve efficiency and impact the mission and future outcomes of the nonprofit sector.

Create a Digital Technology Platform for Growth

Going beyond back-office functionality, a strong digital technology platform goes hand in hand with integration. An integrated platform that allows the whole nonprofit organisation and nonprofit boards to view operations as a single version of the truth.

In NetChange’s survey of technology use by nonprofit organisations, only 11% view their approach to their digital future as highly effective. If done correctly, digital technology adoption isn’t just chasing the latest future trends software. It is strategically selecting digital tools that empower staff and stakeholders to deliver on the mission of their charitable organisations.

Nonprofit organisations are not often associated with competition, and they don’t think they have the potential to fall behind. However, nonprofits are continually competing in fundraising efforts, for volunteers, and passionate staff. By using technology (from a Netsuite partner for example), to create a platform for growth and societal impact, a nonprofit organisation can become a strong charity competitor.

Establish Efficient Volunteer & Fundraising Management

Having an efficient volunteer and fundraising management plan in place can help nonprofit organisations speed up the progress of their operations, achieve objectives, and attract the most talented volunteers and nonprofit professionals. Volunteer management is the process of creating systems for volunteer recruitment, training, engagement, and coordination. Due to the diversity of how nonprofit organisations are managed, volunteer management strategies can vary between organisations.

A volunteer management process that relies heavily on spreadsheets can be counterproductive to nonprofits. Manual processes are prone to error and will waste the valuable time of your volunteers and employees. Valuable time is better spent improving relationships internally and externally that support philanthropy and the objectives of the nonprofit.

Nonprofit organisations need to invest in solutions that will streamline the recruitment, communication, and data collection and analysis to reduce the manual management of volunteers. Investing in technology can save precious time by removing manual volunteer management processes, time that can go towards achieving the vision of the organisation. 

It’s Time to Get Out of Survival Mode

When nonprofit organisations get stuck with an old way of operating, they become unwilling or unable to seek out innovation and positive change. Nonprofit organisations with a ‘survival mode’ culture focused on purely getting donations in the door often lack the capacity to invest in sustainable growth and innovation. Lack of growth and innovation in an organisation can lead to complacency with inefficient or outdated technology, overworked volunteers, and low digital education amongst employees.

Nonprofit leaders need to place fundraising at the centre of every business decision, who are the donors and how do they prefer their charitable giving. To create a fundraising experience that has a true impact, Not-For-Profits should foster digital talent and education, become active on social media, set aside resources for digital planning, strategy and online giving, and understand their audience and how to reach them.

Adopting a data driven approach powered by digital technology into a nonprofit organisation will allow them to continually optimise their fundraising activities in a digital world. With easy access to information on donors, the types of donations people are making, and the effectiveness of programs, the nonprofit industry can deliver value for the communities they support with virtual events or online fundraising as examples.

Digital Technology Transformation

NGO’s need a nonprofit digital transformation to have better business functions that allows the social sector to become more efficient and profitable. Banks are a great example where digital skills and cloud computing have resulted in an improvement in customer service and productivity. However, digital transformation can be confusing, as there is no defined path. Nonprofits need to adopt innovative technology to challenge their traditional way of operating.

There are many benefits for a nonprofit that undertake a digital technology transformation of their organisation:

  • A framework for improved engagement to better understand where the position of their supporters on specific issues (on social media for example)
  • the right collaboration tools are available for internal teams and departments, removing information silos
  • volunteers and employees can more freely and effectively work with one another to achieve the vision and values of the organisation.

The pandemic delivered a long-lasting impact on fundraising revenue for the nonprofit sector that will be felt for many years.  The biggest consideration for the sector when building its digital transformation strategy is process streamlining, digital fundraising and data analysis. Therefore, nonprofits need to seek outside expertise on what areas of their organisation they should focus on first.

Technology can be an amazing digital strategy tool, transforming the way a nonprofit organisation achieves its mission and creates a lasting impact in its community.   


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3 thoughts on “How to Adapt to the Digital Future for the Not-For-Profit Sector

  1. David
    February 15, 2021 at 10:55 am

    It’s very true that not-for-profits need to compete effectively, especially in the client focussed world of NDIS funded services and increasing client and outcome based reporting requirements of Federal funding bodies.

    It’s also very true that tight operational budgets can engender a “bunker” mentality where digital systems are viewed as a “keep the lights on” function, a mindset which most organisations reached decades ago and the best organisations have outgrown.

    An integrated platform with the client at the centre is more important than ever for not-for-profits who plan to thrive into the future.

  2. Trevor Manning
    February 16, 2021 at 12:52 am

    Very well articulated. Love it.

    It is a known fact that, Not-for-profits always struggle for sustainability. This can be due to various reasons. One major component is less funding, yet staying relevant to the community needs. This demands digital representation with an inside out approach for fast delivery of services to the community in demand. Digital products can be expensive to maintain too.

    With that said, what do you suggest that the not-profits do to provide services faster to market with controlled expenses and also making it inclusive for volunteers to contribute and coordinate in a seamless manner?

    • Robert Jurcec
      February 23, 2021 at 2:09 am

      Hi Trevor,
      Thank you for your kind words.

      Our suggestion is to connect the operational processes around service delivery with the financials processes by utilising a technology platform like NetSuite. What this means is as services are delivered, costs approved upfront and incurred, each of these easily entered into one solution. Depending on the type of NFP you are (e.g. project / volunteer-based, charities, service provider, etc), each will have different operational requirements. Some may need grants, donations or fundraising management on the income side, whilst potentially needing resource, volunteer or project management on the delivery (expense management) side, where regardless the one tech platform being NetSuite can do it all under the one solution roof.

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