Thinking About Adopting New Nonprofit Technology This Year? Here are 3 Things You Need to Consider

June 5, 2020  |  Richard Gabrintina

While the future has never been certain, the unique upheaval of 2020 has brought a heightened level of caution around major decisions to many organizations and individuals. Even when the intensity of a crisis has died down, long term economic and social changes are likely to result. Many nonprofits are considering adopting new tools to help adapt to the evolving situation, but is this the right time for a switch? Here are three important things to consider as you make your decision.

This post is adapted from the Q&A discussion of our recent webinar, Switching Tech During a Crisis. For more information and to hear the presentation, watch it on-demand now!

1. How will you measure a return on investment (ROI) of implementing a new tool in this moment?

This is a question on everyone’s mind. The first step to answering this question is to perform a self-assessment. How effectively you’re using a system or tool is will determine whether you’re going to get a good ROI. Your team needs to be working together collaboratively, sharing everyone’s successes, and doing cross-promoting for a good ROI. If you’re only using two out of multiple available features in a tool that you’ve purchased and are paying for, you’re not going to get a good ROI.

Here’s a quick step-by-step recap:

  1. Self-reflect and perform a self-assessment on how your organization is using your tools
  2. Work closely and collaboratively
  3. Use every available feature of the system or tool

2. Do strategic planning before purchasing.

There are many resources available to help you prepare! For instance, check out our guide to Preparing Your Organization to Rock Your New CRM. Meetmaureen.com also offers multiple different webinars, checklists, and worksheets, including “Visualize It! Make a Map Your Digital Ecosystem & Data Flow,” which walks you through performing inventory and showing the data that you have or don’t have, as well as how it connects across your organization. It can be very helpful to know what your organization has, where there’s redundancies, and where there are missing pieces of functionality that is needed.

You may also want to try holding a two-hour meeting (or a 90-minute meeting if you’ve got a small team) for strategic technology planning. Sit down and ask your team these questions:

  • In five years, if we have the right systems, what would be happening in our organization?
  • How many more donors would we have?
  • How much marketing automation would we be using?
  • What would our average gift be?
  • What would our monthly giving program or grassroots organizing program look like?

Start with your strategy and then think about functionality requirements. To be a worthwhile investment, a tool should help you achieve and exceed your goals – what new capabilities would you need from a tool in order to do that? One final resource to check out is the NTEN Nonprofit Technoloy Network, which offers planning worksheets as well.

3. Invest in the basics. Strong fundamental technology = strong programs.

The most important tech to invest in right now is a unified database CRM. You should have a single source of truth about your supporters, contact and activity records that your staff trust, and a place where anything and everything that a person or an organization is doing with your organization is easily accessible.

A CRM is extremely useful in storing data, but its true value lies in using data to answer important questions. If someone is a donor, do they also come to events? Do they fill out grassroots organizing petitions? Have they followed you on social media? There are all kinds of information that nonprofits are collecting; you know when they click something, when they don’t click something, and what they click. If your organization isn’t using that information to customize the communication that you’re sending out, it is a huge missed opportunity. Being able to get a 360-degree view of your supporter is job number one for most of us.

These uncertain times can make it difficult to consider big decisions, but with the right evaluation and planning, it can also be the perfect time to switch to a tool that increases your organization’s efficiency and effectiveness. Watch our recent webinar “Switching Tech During a Crisis” for more detailed information on the topic. If you’re looking for other resources, be sure to also check out our EveryAction Resource Library, our EveryAction COVID-19 Resources, or request a demo to see how EveryAction’s powerful, unified CRM can supercharge your fundraising and digital programs.