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Are your Technology Priorities in Order? Take the Tech Self-Assessment

Technology Planning

Have you ever wondered: How does our nonprofit’s technology shape up? Are we taking advantage of the technology available, or are we missing out on key capabilities that other organizations take for granted?

Last year, I introduced the technology self-assessment and the house metaphor for your organization to help you reflect on whether your technology is a strong foundation... or more like a leaky basement.

You gave me some good feedback, in particular: how do I assess our technology (e.g. our file system, or our website) without knowing what’s possible? Maybe I think what we have is awesome, but there’s actually something way better out there that we could be using? Or maybe we are chasing after the latest shiny when we’re actually doing pretty well?

I thought this was an excellent question, so I updated the technology self-assessment to provide a better idea of what it means to be at each “level”. For example, here’s the assessment for sending emails or e-newsletters to supporters:

  Chaotic Reactive Proactive Integrated Superstar
Do you give your supporters email updates? Email is not used to communicate with supporters. Yes, using our standard email program (e.g. Outlook). Yes, using an online system that allows us to send email to large groups. Yes. Our mass email system allows us to track how many people opened and clicked on our email. It also lets us manage multiple lists and create segments to target our emails. Yes. Our mass email system is integrated with our CRM, so we can see which of our supporters frequently open our emails and what types of content interest them.

If you are using Outlook to send out emails to large groups, you not only risk being blacklisted as a spammer, but you are missing out on valuable metrics you could be collecting to learn about how your supporters are reading and engaging with your message. This is why we recommend using an online newsletter tool such as Vertical Response or MailChimp, which Jane and I reviewed in our TechSoup Battles series.

Ready to get started? The technology self-assessment is free for any nonprofit to use in their organization. You can view and download it here:

Update November 4, 2013: Version 3 of the nonprofit technology self-assessment is now available for download

Update April 30, 2015: Version 5 of the nonprofit technology self-assessment is now available for download. It's now an Excel document to make it easier to fill out, and includes some supplementary reading/resources for each section.

There’s always room for improvement, so I want to keep hearing your feedback. What sections are missing? Is anything confusing/unclear? Would you like it to link to some follow up resources to learn more about these topics?

As well, if you are interested in using this self-assessment with your members or a group of organizations, please let me know so I can learn from your experience and improve the assessment. You can get in touch in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter.