Nonprofit organizations should use technology, directly and indirectly, to drive mission impact. Think about a nonprofit CFO weighing a technology purchase or an upgrade and asking, “So, what’s the ROI?” Another way of asking this question (looking through the nonprofit lens) is, “How will this provide more resources for delivering our organization’s mission?”
The answers may seem tactical and deliberate rather than strategic. For example, “Well, we’ll be able to do what now takes two days in two hours” Or “We’ll be able to send acknowledgments / grant confirmations / bills for services out quicker.”
And what we observe time after time is putting the right technology in place can take care of the most tactical challenges, allowing nonprofit leaders the luxury of being strategic.
Think of it this way: if a bean counter can find technology that can count the beans and do it quickly and accurately, they can get hours back for planning how to grow, acquire, process, and sell (or donate) more beans. (As a former nonprofit bean-counter, I mean Finance Director, I think of the hours I spent manually reconciling departmental spreadsheets rather than focusing on strategy or even providing fund-usage information to donors and fundraisers for stewardship and cultivation purposes.)
Direct Technology for Program Delivery
When we talk about technology that drives mission impact directly, we’re describing technology applications that help build, run, and (of course) evaluate nonprofit program delivery. Here are some examples:
- A food bank’s food inventory and distribution database
- A community center’s membership management system, that can track not only fees and payments, but also how often a member uses which facilities, family-member involvement, etc.
- Promoting a (free) community health event on social media and linking to a registration page
- A foundation’s grants-management database
- A museum offering virtual exhibitions during a pandemic that can reach a much broader audience than they would have otherwise. These new audiences are potentially new members, new donors, and new benefactors.
- A faith-based organization that offers virtual worship services; people can attend these religious services whenever they want, across the country / around the world. Oh, and virtual collection plates.
And as a bonus in these examples, data collected by a nonprofit’s CRM system can then be employed to personalize the program participants’ experiences, and keep them engaged long-term.
Indirect Technology for Efficiency and Effectiveness
Technology is just as often used in nonprofits to drive mission impact indirectly. For example, using technology to improve organizational operations and build efficiencies can give a lean team more time to support mission-specific activities rather than focus on operational functions. And, even more impactful, leveraging technology to achieve more effective and increased revenue generation provides more top-line funding to be spent on mission delivery. Here are some examples:
- Using check scanning equipment that eliminates manual check-logging and automates deposits – saves a lot of time.
- Connecting the CRM or billing database with the accounting system so that revenue transactions automatically get recorded in the ledgers (of course, under the supervision of the finance team). This also saves a lot of time – “double-entry accounting” was never meant to describe actually keying the same transactions into two different systems.
- Using wealth screening and rating software to identify potential wealthy donors or existing donors whose wealth is unknown, and then integrating that data into the CRM, helps fundraisers target the most promising prospects more effectively.
- Databases that trigger membership renewals automatically and send reminders every 30 days for three months before and after (or until the member renews or says “stop”) supports cash flow and encourages a pattern of membership revenue retention.
- Sustaining-gift software that charges someone’s payment card every month – unless or until the donor says to stop – also supports cash flow and fosters a pattern of donor/donation retention.
- Using someone’s history and relationship with an organization to build personalized email messaging and discusses the things that are of interest to them, such as;
- if they volunteered, talking about volunteer opportunities;
- if they attended galas, offering them a chance to sit on a gala committee;
- if they gave to a certain cause, sharing information about how their funds were used. (Of course, this should be done for/with all donors.)
By utilizing technology for stewardship and ongoing engagement, nonprofit organizations can build and sustain relationships with supporters so they remain connected and close – and are more likely to renew their giving when asked, undoubtedly improving donor retention percentages.
Each of these examples uses technology to drive mission impact, albeit indirectly, by generating more resources –both in time and money – to support program delivery. As a bonus, the examples above also demonstrate that the organization can improve the quality of service provided to its stakeholders, donors, and other supporters. For instance, scanning equipment that expedites check processing will also likely speed up the processing of donor acknowledgments.
Technology to Support Technology
This concept of using technology to improve operations and support more effective, productive revenue generation is where Omatic Software comes in. It’s also where the tactical naturally supports the strategic so that nonprofits can maximize resources to drive mission impact.
Today, the most effective nonprofits have seen the value of employing a growing assortment of platforms and applications. These technologies help them better engage with their constituencies, build better relationships, more efficiently obtain funding, and better deliver their mission. But unfortunately, many anticipated benefits and ROI are not realized because these systems don’t naturally talk to each other.
Purpose-built for nonprofits, Omatic solutions seamlessly integrate nonprofit applications – freeing-up staff time, enhancing data quality, and improving revenue performance. Leveraging Omatic’s nonprofit data integration automations, lean teams can focus on initiatives that drive revenue and impact rather than be mired in administrative and operational tasks.
That ‘So What?’ Moment
At this point, you may be thinking, “Okay, so what?” Now it’s your turn to determine how you can use the power of technology to best drive your organization’s impact and answer the question, “How will this new (or upgraded) technology provide more resources for delivering our mission?”
For the organizations we work with, the ‘so what’ moment comes when the nonprofit’s internal stakeholders see the outcomes – how technology drives mission (directly) or generates more resources that support mission impact (indirectly). Remember that the results are not likely to be apparent immediately, and it may take a cycle or two before a nonprofit’s leadership can accurately compare the before vs. the after. Also, envisioned outcomes could be “front-loaded” with work and time spent while new technology is installed, deployed, and optimized.
I’ve been in this business for 35 years, both as a nonprofit executive and a nonprofit systems implementor. It has been my experience that nonprofit leaders who embrace technology have a real and positive advantage over those who ignore it.
Your organization is already doing good, making a positive impact, and working to make your piece of the world a better place. So, by definition, any technology you deploy will be tech for good, tech that drives your organization’s mission. So if you could employ more tech to drive better impact, redeploy existing resources for increased impact, and generate more top-line revenue to fund more impact, wouldn’t you?
To download a free copy of Omatic’s newest e-book, The Power of Using Tech for Impact, click here.