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The Secrets to a Successful Digital Strategy for Not-For-Profits (NFPs)

by Siv Rauv

08 Mar 2018

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According to the report, The New Reality, Digital leaders and champions within the sector are often focused on delivery not strategy.

This has led to systems that do not integrate and talk with each other, digital tools that perform the same function, duplicate data handling on multiple systems, confusion over where to find the source of truth, maintenance of inefficient legacy systems that no longer meet needs and so on.

If you’re serious about building a thriving digital workforce, you cannot simply jump head on into the execution phase of your digital project. You need to lay the foundations for success. This will help you overcome the barriers to driving technology change in your NFP and setting it up for digital success in the years to come.

A digital strategy helps to maintain a holistic view of different technology required, as well as the existing technology in your organisation and how it’s all currently working together. It’s also key to ensuring you’re focused on the needs of your workers, whether it’s your staff, volunteers or contractors.

Related reading: [Blog post] The Role of Technology in Not-for-Profits: Trends, Challenges and Solutions

Digital doesn't work in isolation

How do you decide on the right digital projects for your NFP?

Put technology front and centre by aligning it with your core mission and organisational strategy. This way your digital projects add real business value, while helping to demonstrate its importance to the business.

Get your hands on your organisation’s objectives and strategies.

Ask yourself:

  • How could your future digital projects contribute to it?
  • What difference could it make?
  • Does it present opportunities? 

Next, gather key operational strategies and roadmaps including Communications, IT, Marketing and Brand, Digital, HR and People, Knowledge Management and Innovation and major lines of business.

From all this information you should be able to spot specific opportunities and dependencies that could be part of your digital strategy. Look out for points of friction and causes, as well as inefficiencies.

The strategy you put together should be reviewed regularly to assess digital performance, as well as guide further opportunities to improve operations. This will also help you maintain a holistic view of different technology required, and existing technology in the organisation and how its all currently working together.

For more information, download our guide on building digital capabilities in not-for-profit organisations

How Your NFP Can Effectively Build its Digital Capabilities - Blog Post

Don't Try to Do Everything At Once

Digital transformation requires an overhaul of systems, tools, models and team structures, at minimum. It can be time, cost and resource intensive.

So stick to one new project at a time.

Ask yourself: What will deliver the maximum impact and value for your organisation against your limited budget?

This is why a digital strategy aligned with the organisational objectives and strategy, as well as research, is important!

Keep an eye on existing infrastructure, systems and tools used, and the market options available. If a system is becoming expensive and/or difficult to maintain, there are reasonably priced alternatives available and you can make a good business case for an additional investment, this is a good time to start a digital project. Evaluate a range of alternatives including on-premise and cloud options.

Something that will be valuable for the entire organisation, that can be implemented in a few months, but will not be the biggest disrupter to the workplace. The New Reality report recommends starting with a new intranet. If you put the right amount of preparation into executing this and it results in good adoption rates and reasonable success, it’s easier to ask for bigger system changes.

Consider creating business cases and value cases for every digital project you do. This way the leadership team and wider company will understand why it’s valuable, it aligns with organisational strategies, as well as reinforces the importance of this project over others.

Just Get Started, Don't Get Left Behind

Traditionally NFPs have been hesitant to invest in digital to transform the way their business operate; preferring to funnel money into frontline service delivery. But with clients, supporters and employees increasingly expecting to interact more seamlessly and directly with NFPs via digital technology, continual hesitation will eventually affect your worker’s productivity, client service levels, as well as your bottom line.

So stop hesitating and start doing. Create exceptional digital experiences for clients, supporters and staff. And whatever digital projects you choose to undertake, ensure it is undertaken with a clear strategy aligned to your organisation’s goals and strategies.

Want insights from leading NFPs?

Get an insider's look at how to successfully drive and execute effective digital transformation.

We'll explore key business challenges NFPs often encounter and how to address these, and discuss best practices from real world examples from The Heart Foundation, Heart Kids, The Benevolent Society and more. 

Take this opportunity to learn from the successes of other NFPs, and start improving service delivery and client experiences.

How to Successfully Drive Digital Transformation in Your NFP Video - Small Blog Banner V2

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