By: Carl Diesing, Managing Director, DNL OmniMedia
As with any other year, the end of 2019 leading into January 2020 was an exciting time for those of us at the intersection of fundraising and technology. Tech predictions for 2020 showed an increased use of technology and software for the upcoming year, and fundraising professionals began to plan for the expanded capabilities this would afford.
Unfortunately, not long after the predictions for 2020 emerged, so too did the COVID-19 pandemic. And, if you’re like so many other nonprofits looking to weather the storm that is 2020, those exciting tech plans flew— with haste— out the window. Instead, the need for new technology came to light, and brand new strategies needed to be created to adhere to the “new normal.”
Now that we’re over halfway through the year, it’s time to recognize that the conditions we’re living in currently are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. If your nonprofit is still running with the same tech strategy you entered 2020 with, it’s high time to rework that plan and determine the best tech and strategies for your nonprofit to close out the year strong.
At DNL OmniMedia, we specialize in creating nonprofit technology strategies that position organizations just like yours for success. More recently, this work has taken the form of helping nonprofits pivot their digital strategy for success in the time of social distancing. While doing so, we’ve compiled four tips to adjust your tech strategy to finish out 2020 strong. You should:
- Revisit and optimize your tech stack.
- Incorporate virtual fundraising events.
- Explore alternate revenue streams.
- Work with a nonprofit tech consultant.
An effective nonprofit tech strategy can fill many of the gaps left by COVID-19, whether the cancellation of in-person events or tight budgets due to decreased fundraising dollars. Continue reading to optimize your organization’s strategy to meet this year’s demands.
1. Revisit and optimize your tech stack.
As you built your nonprofit’s tech stack over the years, you did so with the underlying assumption that you’d be using those tools in a non-pandemic world. Revisit your technology lineup in light of our new reality to make sure it can support your COVID-19 needs.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when revisiting your tech stack:
- Can you simplify and streamline your tech stack? Look retroactively at the solutions currently in your tech stack. Would it benefit your team to invest in one robust, multi-functional platform to handle fundraising, marketing, and more? Or, are there solutions you can integrate for a more streamlined workflow?
- Can you optimize for user-friendliness? Now, examine your tech stack for the convenience of those using it. In this DNL OmniMedia guide, you can learn about how to create an accessible site for all users to ensure supporter-facing usability. However, you should also think about your team. As an initial consideration, are there points in your workflow that cause friction for staff and volunteers, such as disorganized data?
- Are any solutions no longer serving your team? Consider whether any of your past tech investments are no longer useful for your team. If you’re paying for subscription-based technology that supports fundraising efforts you’re no longer using (for example, in-person events software), it might be useful to pause that account for the time being.
- Are there any gaps in your tech stack? Finally, look to your tech stack for any gaps that were revealed by the pandemic. For example, if you haven’t invested in grant management software or a virtual event platform, it might be time to do so if either will be part of your pandemic fundraising strategy.
Last but certainly not least, examine your tech stack with a critical eye for data security. Because so much of your nonprofit’s operations will rely on technology, it’s crucial that you can trust the tech to keep all confidential information safe.
2. Incorporate virtual fundraising events.
As a nonprofit professional, you undoubtedly watched the dominos fall for fundraising events earlier in the year. Major galas, nationwide peer-to-peer fundraising events, and more were canceled seemingly overnight.
For many nonprofits, simply waiting for the crisis to end to hold events is no longer feasible. With some of these events accounting for hundreds of thousands of fundraising dollars in a normal year, it’s not a fundraising stream that can be paused indefinitely.
Not every nonprofit— nor every constituent base— is prepared to handle complicated virtual fundraising efforts just yet. That’s why we recommend exploring the world of virtual peer-to-peer fundraising. In our peer-to-peer fundraising guide, the steps of a virtual peer-to-peer fundraiser are as follows:
With a virtual peer-to-peer event, the early planning process is the same:
- Come up with the fundraising event concept.
- Create online peer-to-peer fundraising pages for donors.
- Encourage donors to raise gifts on behalf of your mission.
After this step is where the process diverges. Rather than all of your participating donors joining together in one space for the event itself— such as a group walk— each donor completes the challenge independently.
3. Explore new revenue streams.
There’s no denying the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has your nonprofit likely felt the pressure, but your donors likely have as well.
This may mean that your nonprofit has seen a decrease in donations in 2020 and with it, a slower crawl toward your fundraising goals. If that’s your organization, it’s a good idea to seek alternative funding sources. Luckily, there are tech solutions to help you do so.
You could invest in software solutions that can help you discover new fundraising opportunities.
According to this Double the Donation guide, corporate matching gift programs are those where an employer will match the gifts made by their employees to your organization. By embedding a matching gift tool on your website, you empower donors to search their eligibility and discover whether they can make an even bigger impact on your nonprofit’s mission.
On the other hand, you could invest in software solutions that can optimize your fundraising efforts.
Grant management software would fall into this category. What we’ve seen in 2020 is that many grantmaking organizations have increased their available funding and loosened restrictions in response to this year’s challenges. However, that doesn’t mean that discovering and securing grants is an easy process, and adding effective grant management software to your tech stack can increase your chances of success.
Beyond soliciting donations, there are a variety of ways your nonprofit can limit or avoid a financial downturn. These tech strategies will give your organization the best chance possible to discover and secure new funding opportunities.
4. Work with a nonprofit tech consultant.
Just as your organization likely sought out external resources to help at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might want to consider seeking the help of a nonprofit tech consultant to assist with your new tech needs as well.
This is a valuable strategy not only because you may need assistance incorporating new tech, but also because you might need ongoing help adjusting your strategy in the fundraising landscape that changes day-by-day.
When it comes to nonprofit tech consulting, you can seek assistance with:
- Implementing new technology. From choosing the right solutions to ensuring a smooth migration to the new platforms, a consultant can ensure the transition is seamless.
- Integrating software solutions. With regards to creating intuitive connections between your various platforms, a nonprofit consultant can build out these integrations.
- Training your staff. When you’re relying so heavily on technology, it’s essential that your entire team understands how to navigate the solutions effectively. A tech consultant can step in and conduct training to that end.
- Creating a comprehensive fundraising strategy. Tech consulting goes beyond implementing technology. These firms can help you create a comprehensive strategy for how each of your solutions will work together to reach fundraising goals.
In addition to helping your team pivot your current strategy, a nonprofit tech consultant can help your organization stay agile as the fundraising landscape changes going forward.
While you likely positioned your tech strategy for success at the start of this year, the plans you carefully laid are likely no longer effective.
Now that we’re beyond halfway through the year, accepting that the uncertain fundraising landscape is sticking around for the foreseeable future is key. By adjusting your tech strategy now, you’ll position your organization to finish the year successfully.
About the Author
Carl Diesing co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.