Digital Strategy

Digital Transformation for Nonprofits: Secrets to success and next steps

August 7, 2021 Nonprofits Decoded Team
nonprofit digital transformation tips and advice

To a lot of people, face-to-face interactions seem but a distant memory. Due to the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, society has been shifted to a digital-first world, where standard nonprofit activities like fundraising and events no longer rely on in-person interaction.

If stakeholders and organizations want to survive in this new paradigm, they need to learn how to traverse the digital scene. To continue making a change in communities that are now more vulnerable than ever, nonprofits need to make a shift in their work processes – a digital transformation, to be precise.

We’re sure you’re aware that a nonprofit is as only good as its people – and there are a lot of people that make up an organization! There are staff members to think about, board members, your valuable supporters and volunteers, as well as your beneficiaries.

As your nonprofit slowly learns a new work dynamic anchored on technology, remember to focus on ensuring how your people can successfully adapt and eventually maximize these changes.

Make the move to digital

Completely overhauling your nonprofit’s existing system isn’t going to be easy, but organizational health doesn’t change overnight.

It will entail unique changes to every department, and it’s critical to think about each role and each process. That’s where proper planning comes in. Take into account each department’s unique experiences to find digital tools and strategies that can successfully deliver your nonprofit’s goals.

To get started, here are a few things you should consider in making the nonprofit digital shift:

  • The Development team focuses on online fundraising programs
  • Marketing department comes up with alternative engagement practices through the virtual world
  • Managers organize the logistics of a complete work-from-home set-up
  • All coordination and communication are done virtually

A nonprofit digital transformation can be overwhelming, so take it step-by-step! We’ve got some tips to help your nonprofit continue its valuable work in the virtual world.

Tips to a Successful Nonprofit Digital Transformation

1. Keep digital processes people-centered

Though you’ll be moving in-person processes into the digital world, it doesn’t mean that humans can’t remain at the core of your nonprofit. Establish an open line of communication with the departments involved with in-person processes. Make their relevant experiences the foundation of your nonprofit’s groundbreaking new digital transformation.

If your organization is working to move face-to-face processes into the digital world, guide your team through these steps

  • Set a meeting with volunteers and staff members involved in the in-person process.
  • Establish meetings as a safe space for brainstorming and airing concerns about the digital transformation. Addressing staff fears will lead to better communication and brainstorming.
  • Review the basics of the in-person process to establish relevant key functions.
  • Consider the experiences of affiliated staff members when improving processes through digital tools.
  • Layout the new technology and detail each member’s new role
  • Implement the new digital process and make all updates and changes known to the staff
  • Provide sufficient training resources and seminars to help the staff adjust to the digital tools
  • Make sure to call a follow-up meeting with the staff after a few trial runs. Discuss how the new digital process could be improved.

2. Think outside the box

A nonprofit would go to the ground without its valuable volunteers and constituents.

Make it your priority to encourage stakeholders to continue engagement with your organization by collaborating across departments. Your nonprofit should be able to meticulously hash out the details of the concerns of your constituents so that you can effectively use technology to improve their experience. To put it simply, think as an outsider looking in.

If your nonprofit is receiving hundreds of calls a day from volunteers, consider setting up a volunteer portal form that can collect, organize, and redirect data. The volunteer should be redirected to a set of email communications or staff referrals based on their form results.

Engaging virtual experiences make previous processes faster and more efficient.

To effectively understand your constituents, work with your staff to figure out these points:

  • What type of content and correspondence would supporters want to receive from your organization? How would your constituents prefer to receive correspondence?
  • How could you build a sincere and inspiring relationship with your constituents through social media?
  • Are there processes in place that make volunteer and sponsor experience inefficient?

Once you answered these questions, try to look for a digital tool that your nonprofit can test out. There are several low-cost options you can consider to try out on campaigns or events. Assess the results and consider how these technologies can benefit and improve your constituents’ experience for years to come.

3. Support your staff through the changes

We all know how change and a lack of control can be scary things. Especially with the coronavirus pandemic, people are scrambling to gain a sense of stability regarding their livelihood. It’s no wonder why lockdown protocols and work-from-home environments were met with much resistance. There’s that lingering fear of desperate attempts to adapt to change, else you risk your career.

New technologies and processes in the workplace can be met with resistance. Staff members might not be willing to learn the new technology and revert to old practices. It’s up to supervisors and executive officers to effectively communicate the digital transformation needs.

Support your staff with change management by:

  • Celebrating staff members who successfully use new digital processes and tools
  • Send milestone updates to your staff on social media or via email
  • Reward team members who complete training
  • Check-in on staff members who shifted from in-person processes to a digital one

Regardless of how you want to go about staff support, establishing open communication should always be the foundation. Make it known to the staff members that you want them to be heard. Acknowledge their concerns and criticisms and take the necessary steps to make them feel valued.

Starting your digital transformation

Remember that a digital transformation has people at its core.

Research innovations that can engage your community through the effective use of digital tools. Ensure that your new processes work to benefit all the members of your nonprofit, including beneficiaries and staff members.