Quick show of hands: how many of you had never used Zoom or GoToMeeting before the Covid-19 pandemic?
Now, how many of you have come to rely on virtual meetings to connect with friends, family or colleagues weekly?
Virtual meetings are so easy and inexpensive to attend and have become so second-nature that many of us will continue to rely on them for years to come, long after the coronavirus pandemic is far behind us.
Right now, businesses – profit and nonprofit alike – are undergoing dramatic digital transformations and many of those changes (e.g. virtual board meetings) will most likely become new operational norms. At Spokes, we know our nonprofit members are feeling pressure to quickly to find new ways to raise funds online, work remotely, safely train volunteers and check in on their clients virtually. So, we’d like to offer a few tips to help guide your process.
Classy.org, a company that offers an online fundraising software for nonprofits, recently published a very helpful blog article on this subject titled “3 Secrets to a Successful Nonprofit Digital Transformation”. Below are a few other questions to ask your staff and board as you decide how and where to start your nonprofit’s digital transformation:
What’s not working?
What basic operations in your organization need to be re-worked in light of social distancing requirements? What activities or programs are stalled but must continue and, therefore, become digitized? What are similar nonprofits doing well digitally that your organization is not doing?
What has worked well in the past?
Take an inventory of all the meetings, events or programs your organization has conducted digitally to date. Which were most successful? Who participated? Are there common denominators among your successful digital events? If so, focus on building on those commonalities and successes first.
What is your primary audience? How does that audience use technology?
Your nonprofit organization may have more than one key audience and each audience may have different comfort levels with technology – both what tools it likes to use and for which activities. Be careful not to build a digital strategy that leaves your most committed or important stakeholders behind.
What is your nonprofit’s long-term vision?
Things will get better. There will be a Covid-19 vaccine someday. Don’t waste time and energy trying to solve short-term problems when defining your larger digital strategy. Focus on creating digital systems and solutions that will consistently move your organization towards your long-term goals. For example, instead of creating a new virtual fundraising event, put more energy into finding new ways to consistently and meaningfully connect with donors through technology. Event attendees come and go, but strong donor relationships will help to carry your organization’s mission year after year. How can you use technology to enhance your donor stewardship efforts?
One Step at a Time
Your nonprofit’s digital transformation will require both internal and external behavioral changes. To be successful, you will need a considered and well-defined plan and lots patience for the people you are asking to make the changes required. Contact Spokes if you need consulting or other resources to help you in your process and remember to measure your success in progress, not perfection. You may even eventually find yourself wondering why you ever bothered to drive and attend a board meeting in person.