According to NTEN, more than 50% of respondents to a 2016 survey indicated that they include technology in their strategic plan to improve client interaction and program effectiveness.
This statistic shows that the majority of nonprofit leaders see obvious benefits and cost-savings opportunities from embracing technology. However, nonprofits are often still reluctant to adopt new technology and business practices, fearing implementation failure and poor user acceptance.
If you’re looking to make strides towards adopting technology, but are struggling to get the rest of your nonprofit on board, consider these helpful suggestions for embracing technology integration in your nonprofit.
Do your research and anticipate concerns.
Technology adoption doesn’t happen overnight. If you want your organization to agree with your proposal, provide reasoning for why the technology solution is a good fit for your nonprofit. Through careful due diligence and research, you can provide team members with real solutions to common pain points.
To start, examine how the technology can be of value to your nonprofit and provide resources. Because ease of use is essential for nonprofit technology adoption, you’ll want to anticipate questions regarding this matter, as well as answers to the following questions when you propose a new solution or system:
- What are the initial costs? Recurring costs?
- How long does implementation take?
- Is training required?
- Does this solution require any background knowledge in nonprofit technology?
- How can this solution automate tasks for staff members?
- How can this solution simplify the donation process?
- How does this solution propel our mission forward?
By addressing the potential risks and rewards of technology adoption, a decision-maker is more inclined to agree with your proposal.
Beyond addressing potential concerns proactively, you will also need to share customer testimonials for the platform or system you’re proposing. By including some relatable examples, the board of directors will recognize that you did your research.
Research case studies to further your point. If other nonprofits have benefitted from taskforce collaboration—something your nonprofit is looking to achieve—vocalize that.
These side-by-side comparisons will prove to the board that other, similar nonprofits have experienced benefits from technology implementation.
Define software specifics.
For nonprofits, finding money in the budget for all-encompassing technology solutions is a challenge. Because of this, nonprofits often turn to free technologies, even though they may limit user accessibility or act only as spot solutions. Remember, the point of implementing new technology is to streamline processes for all those involved, not hinder it. Thus, when pitching new technologies, be sure to define software specifics, such as pricing options and product limitations.
Choose a technology that can simplify and replace multiple spot solutions by combining their functions into one, easy-to-use tool. If the software you’re considering limits licenses with a tiered pricing structure as you add users, this is most likely not the solution for you. With this structure, an executive director or CEO is required to micromanage how many licenses the organization is using to make sure they don’t unintentionally bump themselves into the next pricing tier. This leaves little time to further your organization’s respective mission.
The goal is to identify an overarching solution that solves multiple pain points, not just one, with ease.
Speak to the decision-maker.
To steer your nonprofit in the right direction, take what you’ve researched and act on it. If you’re able to identify the appropriate solution, don’t waste time. Speak to the decision-makers in your organization and sign up for a free trial.
There’s a fine line between considering your options and letting opportunities for technology implementation pass you by. The Chicago Tribune explains that although nonprofits tend to adopt new technology slower than other companies, “the ones that move quickly have seen greater increase in donations and activity from new donors.”
In the end, the solution you choose may not be right for you, and that’s okay. Generally speaking, a technology implementation should include fallback or back-out arrangements. That way, it the solution doesn’t fit the needs of your nonprofit, you can cancel your membership at any time with no repercussions.
Remember, the key to technology implementation success is finding a solution you will actually use. Ideally, find a solution with no logins, training or IT staff required. If you can do that, you will have more time and money to further your nonprofit’s mission.