I will never forget my first glimpse into the nonprofit world from a Fintech perspective.
“Billions of dollars have been invested in making it easy to buy things online…ads follow you… checkout is frictionless…everything is measured and optimized for the consumer experience, the opposite is the case for the donor in the nonprofit sector.”—stated Peter Byrnes, Founder & CEO of Fundraise Up.
I found myself flashing back to similar albeit different conversations with Michael Beckerman, Founder & CEO of CRETech, years before the Commerical Real Estate Industry figured out the inevitable move to digital.
There could not be another sector more analog than commercial real estate, which was heavily built on relationships.
Today, the biggest and best organizations in Commercial Real Estate utilize the latest and most innovatitve technologies, to rise above their competitors.
So, what are the five things you need to thrive as a nonprofit on the road to digital transformation?
1) Mission Statement: It must include the 3 “W”s WHO you serve, WHAT you do and WHY you do it…arguably, the most powerful tools a nonprofit has. Although mission gives purpose and drives impact, it does not make donors exclusive to any nonprofit.
Joan Garry says it best “This is not an elevator pitch…precious few of the 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S have five-star mission statements… A clear mission statement is critical to every stakeholder group” from A Guide to Nonprofit Leadership.
2) Data: It is most likely one of the most valuable things a nonprofit has and generally one of its most underused assets. As the world continues to evolve at a frightening place, Data can propel your organization to new heights, as it should. Nonprofits are the earliest pioneers of aggregating data to deploy communication strategies. Although today’s regulatory changes may seem daunting, working within data privacy and data policy provides a clear roadmap on how to promote and grow your nonprofit like never before. Just as Technology companies operate without diminishing value at scale, so can your organization. *This is an area where both your Non Profit and technology providers can set themselves apart. If you have not started understanding 1st party data agreements and are unclear about how Schrems II affects your business, you have a lot of catching up to do.
3) Communication Strategy: Your donor communications must transcend from snail mail across your website into your emails, consistently reinforcing your mission and speaking to your NPO’s Impact on the world. Every interaction with donors allows you to pinpoint the best way to communicate with each donor. Getting granular in your messaging and applying insights from all the data you collect, informs you on which communication path to send a donor, you can reinforce your mission and connect with a donor moving them closer to exclusively supporting your nonprofit.
Jason Jensen, owner and marketing consultant of The Digital Nonprofit, stated, “When at all possible, move towards simple, automated, text-based emails vs. infrequent, image-based newsletters. It’s been proven time and again to be more effective. “
4) Ability to responsibly accept gifts across all channels and types. Long gone are the days of ringing a bell in a Santa Suit or selling cookies bringing in the majority of small program giving. The biggest question in any nonprofit’s mind is how to easily accept more donations digitally?
Donors will move mountains to be impactful. Donating should not feel like moving a mountain. Based on donor demographics, you need to be able to collect donations in the language of your donor, in the preferred tender of your donor, and in as little time as possible. *Fundraise Up is a proven 2x multiplier for accelerating the volume of donations, and a ~3x multiplier in converting a one time donation to monthly recurring donations through its ease of checkout services.
“Nonprofits are tireless champions of change in communities across the U.S. and across the world. Created with these invaluable organizations in mind, BDO’s first annual Nonprofit Standards, addresses a persistent question among nonprofit leaders: ‘How does my organization measure up?” Laurie De Armond and Adam Cole Partners and National Co-Leaders, Nonprofit & Education Practice.
Albeit tremendously necessary, Benchmarking and reporting are great ways to measure performance, a nonprofit’s impact must be measured and communicated through compelling storytelling. Through collecting and deploying data and having a successful communication strategy, the mission becomes part of the nonprofit’s story on its way to impact.
Through compelling storytelling, you can make your nonprofit’s journey become the donor’s journey, and as I stated above, donors move mountains for a mission they care about.
In summary, the five tactical takeaways for your nonprofit involve a shift in how you approach your communications, the ability to accept donations in all manners a donor intends to give, and most importantly, a cultural shift in how you think about data. Technology can be your biggest asset for growth in today’s world, while reducing your expense, understanding your donors, and improving your overall program efficiency.
Non Profit & For Profit Digital Transformation Champion
Host of The Roundtable, Founder CRECollaborative
CRETech Thought Leader, & Real Estate Brokerage Owner