Your nonprofit has a mission. You have a strategic plan. You are on your way to fulfilling your mission. Okay, great! So how does technology fit into all this? As we’ve been discussing, organizations that work best are ones that use Technology as Strategy instead of considering their technology just another office supply. Technology should be driving your nonprofit’s mission, but in order to implement it successfully, you must clarify and articulate your organization’s goals and needs.
Identifying your organization’s goals
Identify what you are trying to do with your current software. How does that align with what your software is actually doing for you? You may find that you have given up on certain goals or put them on the back burner because your technology doesn’t support them. Create a list of 3-4 goals you have for your technology, why you haven’t been able to achieve them yet, and what you need in order to reach these goals.
An example of a goal may be: Reconnect with past donors who haven’t given in 3 or more years. You’ve kept their names on hand and have continued to include them in your big year-end appeal, but you haven’t had much success. You need to be able to devote more staff time to reactivating these relationships on a one-on-one basis but your database is so confusing you barely have enough time to get your major campaigns out, let alone identify past donors to meet with individually. Having saved searches and reports that you could easily pull updated lists from would allow staff to allocate time to reactivating X number of dormant donors per month.
Think of your organization’s mission. Write it down, and refer back to it often as you assess your goals and needs. Then you will want to consider things like:
- How your organization measures its impact and results
- What happens when you don’t reach your goals
- Current challenges
- Costs expended on resources – including staff time
There’s plenty more – this is a serious process! – so to delve into it, gather your team together and ask everyone to be frank about their technology challenges and what they need to achieve their goals as individual employees and as an organization.
Identifying your organization’s needs
After identifying a goal, ask yourself a few questions about how technology is supporting that goal.
- How could we use our current technology more effectively to achieve this goal?
- What new technology could we explore to help achieve this goal?
- What makes our organization different from the other 1.5 million nonprofits out there? How do we market those differences?
- What technologies could we use to help our organization stand out?
It may be the case that your technology is getting in the way of your goals, or that your staff simply need more training to understand the full functionality of your current tools. Have a discussion with your current technology provider to see if there are functionalities in your current tools that you aren’t utilizing, or if additional training is needed. If the tools don’t have the features you need, or if it would be too far out of your budget to add the tools needed, it may be time to find a new solution.
When you’re ready to dig deep, download the Technology as Strategy Guide. We hope it helps you assess your nonprofit’s technology needs so that you can move forward with fulfilling your mission.
Previous blogs in the Technology as Strategy series:
Technology as Strategy: What it means and how you can get started
Why your organization needs data documentation
Other good resources:
Secrets to finding out what you need – good questions to ask during a technology assessment
Is your nonprofit ready for a new CRM?
How can I identify my nonprofit’s software needs and priorities?