Tech Consulting in 2020 & Beyond: 5 Signs It’s Time
Nonprofits are no stranger to responding to crises. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a bit different. In addition to an ongoing economic downturn, organizations have been faced with the unique challenge of fundraising without in-person interaction.
For many organizations, the shift to virtual fundraising has been smooth, relatively speaking. In recent years, the importance of online fundraising, quick responses from the nonprofit tech sector and donors’ growing comfort with livestreamed video and online interaction have all eased the transition.
However, every nonprofit is different. There are still challenges to be faced in the pivot to virtual fundraising and engagement, especially as we head into the critical year-end fundraising season. This is where nonprofit technology consulting can come in handy.
In this article, we want to highlight a few key areas where nonprofits may need help pivoting to the digital sphere if they’re still struggling to gain their footing. Your organization may benefit from outside tech guidance if:
- You have to pivot your digital strategy quickly.
- You’re implementing new technology to continue operations.
- Your current software isn’t up-to-par.
- You do not see effective technology adoption in your organization.
- You don’t have a strong strategy for data collection and analysis.
We’ll explore each of these scenarios, as well as how nonprofit tech strategy consulting can help your organization navigate the challenge of fundraising during COVID-19. Let’s get started.
You Have to Pivot Your Digital Strategy Quickly
One of the biggest challenges of fundraising during COVID-19 is simply how quickly the changes became necessary. One day, organizations were planning in-person fundraising events, and the next, each of those events had to be canceled.
Any in-person interactions were quickly edited to fit the parameters of safe social distancing. Increased digital collaboration across the nonprofit sector, with organizations working together for the common goal of defeating the pandemic, is now necessary.
Nonprofit organizations that were functioning optimally with more traditional fundraising methods, perhaps with less than up-to-date technology, were likely caught off guard by the quick pivot to digital necessity. These organizations may not have an extensive digital infrastructure in place to handle the entirety of their operations and have been building a strategy from the ground up to continue making a difference in their communities and generating essential operational support.
If that’s your organization, a technology consultant can help. An unbiased, outside expert can:
- Research and recommend software solutions for your organization.
- Outline a full strategy to bring your operations digital.
- Communicate that strategy to your staff and board.
- Serve as an external project manager for the duration of the transition.
Suppose your organization is making significant changes to your fundraising strategy due to this year’s challenges. In this case, whether you’re incorporating new online donation software or even digital work from home tools, a technology consulting firm can help facilitate the transition.
You’re Implementing New Technology to Continue Operations
Let’s say your organization has navigated the transition to virtual fairly smoothly. Even so, there’s a decent chance the COVID-19 pandemic has called for new tech solutions that you haven’t explored before.
Virtual event technology and livestreaming platforms are the most common example today. While you can’t fully recreate the in-person experience, tech has stepped up to make it easier than ever for nonprofits to create new, virtual experiences that engage donors and reinforce connections.
There’s a decent chance your organization has worked or is currently working to incorporate a new solution into your strategy and could use some help in the process. In addition to researching and recommending new tech solutions to meet your new virtual needs, a tech consultant can:
- Develop and customize your technology to ensure it functions optimally for your organization’s exact needs.
- Manage any data migrations needed for the new system to function properly.
- Introduce your staff to the new system and educate them on how to use it.
While some nonprofit technology companies are providing free resources to help nonprofits during COVID-19, your nonprofit may still benefit from the assistance of a tech consultant when it comes to wading into these new technology waters.
Your Current Software Isn’t Up-to-Par
If your nonprofit was ahead of the curve when it came to using software in your operations, you were likely in a slightly more comfortable position earlier this year. However, there’s still the chance that your software isn’t quite equipped with the comprehensive functionality you may need to really maximize impact.
If you’re generally satisfied with your tech solutions — enough so that you don’t want to invest in entirely new software — you might instead consider bringing in a nonprofit technology consultant to expand, update or refine your current system.
These consultants can:
- Evaluate your current nonprofit technology solutions.
- Discover areas of weakness or for improvement.
- Build upon your existing solutions, customizing them to fit your nonprofit’s needs.
- Build integrations between the various solutions your organization is using.
Investing in new solutions may not be the best option for every nonprofit right now. If that’s the case, consider nonprofit tech strategy consulting aimed at customizing the software you’re already working with and building new integrations to boost the ROI of your existing system.
You Do Not See Effective Technology Adoption in your Organization
This issue is one you may have noticed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s especially harmful now that technology is such an integral part of operations. If your staff isn’t correctly utilizing the tech solutions your nonprofit relies on, it’s time to revisit their software training.
This could be something as simple as revisiting established data hygiene practices and ensuring that your staff is following standardized protocols. Uniform data input is essential when you’re relying on technology to function, and if you see issues, it could be due to a lack of standardization across the board.
However, you could also have a larger issue, such as your staff simply not understanding or having an awareness of your software’s features. Regardless of the scope of the problem, there are a few solutions that nonprofit tech consultants can implement, including:
- Staff-wide training. Ensuring each member understands the system itself and how their particular role interacts with it.
- Customized support. Answering any questions that arise as your staff interacts with tech products.
- Policy creation. Outlining any best practices and establishing policy documentation so there’s uniformity in your staff’s use of your tech solutions.
- Campaign strategy creation. Aligning your fundraising campaign’s goals with your software’s features, so you make the most of the solution.
Implementing and successfully using software relies on much more than just the initial investment in new technology. Consider investing in nonprofit tech strategy consulting to train your team accordingly if you haven’t seen the desired results.
You Don’t Have a Strong Strategy for Data Collection and Analysis
Data is the key to understanding your nonprofit’s operations’ success and where new opportunities may lie. It’s often essential for improving collaboration and visibility across your organization, allowing you to communicate updates with donors, other stakeholders and grantmakers.
As you pivot to new tech solutions, it’s easy to lose track of your data collection and analysis strategy. Integrating solutions across the board and ensuring all information collected flows into one comprehensive database for analysis can get confusing as you incorporate new solutions. Plus, with the broader shift to virtual fundraising, you’re going to have more data to work with than ever before.
Consider bringing in outside help to refresh your data strategy as you take more and more of your operations digital. These consultants can:
- Create and implement integrations between your software solutions.
- Outline data management procedures and best practices.
- Configure custom reports targeting the exact insights your nonprofit needs.
- Create a timeline for benchmarks and success evaluation.
Data will be essential for continuing to refine and adapt your fundraising strategies regardless of any new challenges ahead. As we continue navigating the new normal, staying on top of evolving best practices around data and virtual fundraising is definitely a good idea. Begin your exploration with Double the Donation’s collection of nonprofit COVID-19 resources and Blackbaud’s compilation of free COVID-19 resources to start.
While nonprofits have weathered the storm of many crises, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge. No longer able to interact in-person much at all, organizations have to meet higher than average fundraising needs and continue communicating donor impact without any face-to-face interaction.
This has resulted in a mass pivot to digital operations, a significant challenge for any nonprofit but especially for those whose tech stacks maybe weren’t up to par to begin with. From work-from-home efforts to entirely virtual events, the scope of digital incorporation is varying from organization to organization, though the necessity of technology is the same across the board.
Temporary outside help to optimize your digital strategy could be the right move for your mission to continue fundraising successfully. Start by fully analyzing and defining your unique needs, and then begin researching the wide range of specialized support that’s out there. If your organization could use a boost after a wild year, understand that you’re not alone in the challenge!
Carl Diesing co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together, DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As managing director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.