How can a nonprofit organization scale while already feeling overwhelmed by the particularly challenging factors involved in operating within the nonprofit sector? Whether the focus of a foundation’s mission is on art, health, education, environment, social justice, etc., many nonprofits operate within tight budgetary constraints while striving to achieve lofty missions and solve complex problems of the world. Investment in technology can maximize success in achieving the nonprofit’s mission, while streamlining operations, effectively managing resources and increasing fundraising efforts in organizations of all sizes. From simple cloudbased management systems to complex customized platforms, tech solutions can benefit nonprofits in multiple ways.
Relationship Data and Nonprofits
Nonprofits rely heavily on their relationships with donors, volunteers, event attendees, staff, vendors and clients to achieve their goals and mission. Donor lists, especially, are a prized commodity as donations are often the primary source of income. The management of data about all of these relationships can quickly bog down operations staff, especially if the organization is still using spreadsheets as the main tool. Investment in a customer relationship management system (CRM) to organize relationship data is an important investment for nonprofits of all sizes and can allow an organization to scale its fundraising and marketing efforts. Small organizations can benefit from a simple, out-of-the box or cloud-based CRM with nonprofit-centric platforms, many of which offer deep discounts. Mid-size organizations may find that partnering with expert consultants to customize and configure CRMs provide the best results. Large-scale and global nonprofits usually require complex, robust, custom systems to manage their comprehensive and complicated relationship data. No matter the size of the nonprofit, leveraging tech and reporting solutions to get a handle on relationship data can free up operational resources and is the first step towards streamlining fundraising and relationship management.
Using Technology to Improve Fundraising Efforts
Once the relationship data is properly managed, nonprofit staff can focus efforts on implementing effective fundraising strategies. Technology has enabled the expansion of fundraising efforts over the last several years, opening multiple fundraising channels and eliminating the need to focus solely on large, resource-heavy events or expensive direct mail campaigns. With the right tech tools in place, donors can contribute easily from their computer or mobile device at the time most convenient to them, through the channels that they most frequently engage with. Fundraising efforts can be launched through online forms and pages, texting campaigns, or social media promotions. On the backend, these tech solutions organize and handle data, eliminating the need for staff to spend hours entering data, crunching numbers and rifling through paperwork. For fundraising events, nonprofits can utilize tools to streamline event registration and checkout, and use mobile applications for auction bidding and payment processing.
Many organizations have success with out-of-the-box applications or minor customizations, but certain tasks require unique solutions. For example, the YMCA of Seattle required a custom solution to consolidate and manage data, use that data to automatically create fundraising “pledge cards”, and digitally distribute the cards to potential donors. Once the custom system was implemented, the organization improved fundraising efficiency, transferring the work associated with generating pledge cards from the staff to the system.
Elevate Marketing Strategies
It’s important to have a strategy for marketing fundraising efforts and promoting the organization’s mission in the digital age across multiple channels. Leverage donor information and turn it into actionable data for pinpointing the best marketing strategies. Track donor preferences and behaviors in a data management system. For example, does a certain donor typically respond to communications from email or social media? How much do certain donors tend to give and how often? This type of data can help determine the best path for creating personalized interactions at the appropriate frequency. In addition, determine how an online presence can boost advocacy and awareness of the organization’s mission and attract new, potential donors.
In the for-profit business world, successes are measured economically through profits and ROI. In the nonprofit sector, accomplishments are sometimes difficult to measure and can depend on how broad and abstract the organization’s mission. Investors still want to see reports and stories that illustrate the organization’s impact in meaningful ways. Even though it may be hard to draw direct correlations between organizational financial performance and broad missions such as “building healthier lives” or “fostering the love of music,” it is still important to evaluate metrics to assess the overall health of the organization and the results of fundraising efforts and marketing campaigns. Many management platforms geared toward nonprofits offer business intelligence (BI) tools and reporting. For large nonprofit organizations, reporting solutions can be customized in countless ways to make reporting fast and efficient. To benefit business operations and resource allocation teams, analytics platforms can be used to create quick, configurable models for targeting the best investment options, and properly allocating financial resources. Using technology to streamline business reporting and analytics can help organizations make impactful decisions and move their nonprofit to the next level.
If a nonprofit organization is looking to scale or even streamline operations allowing for reallocation of more funds to the cause, investment in technology is key. Nonprofits of all sizes can benefit from the application of tech solutions in order to improve efficiency and increase the likelihood of success in achieving mission goals.
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