Male food bank director uses digital tablet

What Does Digital Transformation Look Like for the Nonprofit Sector?

In the nonprofit world, the consensus is fairly straight-forward: digital transformation initiatives are no longer optional but essential to achieve mission success. The catalyst? The velocity of change is accelerating, while yesterday’s presumptions are becoming obsolete as members, donors, volunteers and other constituents expect instant, accurate, personalized access to information that connects them to insights and information that is relevant, compelling and available on multiple channels, including personal mobile devices.

Data-Driven Social Consciousness

There are over 1.5 million NGOs in the U.S and 10 million NGOs globally that received funding and donations from over 1.4 billion people and organizations in 2014. Essentially, all of those organizations are competing to retain funding by forming emotional connections with potential donors while the  “digital noise” has become deafening for those campaigning for funding, memberships and volunteers. 

As such, technologists and marketers within the NGO and non-profit niche have made radical adjustments and are becoming savvier. They're collaborating with technology innovation leaders who offer flexibility and options that are suitable for today’s requirements and tomorrow’s vision to reach an increasingly distracted constituency. 

Gathering Insights Faster

In this hyper-competitive space, there is a daily battle for relevance that indirectly pits one non-profit against another. When one organization receives a grant, secures major donor funding or increases its membership or volunteer participation… another organization loses out.  As such, executives in this sector are engaging technology consultants and companies built on utilizing innovation to leverage methodologies, digital platforms and tools to accelerate projects that create structural flexibility using data inputs and metrics to drive good business decisions. Promising developments in marketing automation and artificial intelligence may also boost the ability of nonprofits to survey, analyze and understand the preferences of current, lapsed and potential donors. 

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Prioritizing Audience Journey Orchestration

While every nonprofit organization sits at a different place in their digital journey, there are several priorities commonly shared across the sector.

  • Intelligent, effective, systematic engagement in the constituent and stakeholder funding journey.
  • Optimizing brand content and messaging across platforms to a discerning audience of donor/volunteers
  • Ensuring data capture and analytics capabilities are enabled to justify program and campaign investments
  • Flexibility, time-to-delivery, scalability and ease-of-use as enterprise technology prerequisites

Investing in 24/7 Support

Constituents support organizations that are able to passionately appeal to their interests on a 1:1 level while offering online assistance and information, irrespective of location or timezone. I  consistently see the most substantive investments are taking place in these areas:

  • Data Management solutions, including master data management, data governance, business intelligence, and data analytics. Organizations can’t manage what they can’t measure. Digital experience platforms can become an integral part of a holistic data management project.
  • Donor Digital Experience platforms connected to mobile apps. The digital experience platform (DXP) is quickly becoming the go-to remedy for marketing and IT professionals alike as they provider robust functionality with flexibility and integration options to meet present and future needs to integrate well with other tools. Maintaining 24x7x365 access to intelligently engage potential donors and volunteers is no longer optional, and it’s essential.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot projects. Machine learning holds the potential to drive down operational costs. 

How Digital Transformation Makes a Difference 

Given the accelerating velocity of change, organizational survivability is at stake when an organization is either unwilling or unable to pivot and adapt to a dynamic reality: those that thrive leverage innovation to stay ahead in the knowledge age. Credit cards are swiped and checks are written when the perception of the non-profit culture, competency, character and chemistry of the organization align with a potential donor’s belief that their participation will actually make a difference. Breaking through the digital noise to reach an increasingly distracted and fiscally ambivalent audience begins with a digital transformation journey.

Chris Bell Headshot

Chris Bell

Senior Enterprise Account Executive (NGO) - East Coast Acquia

Chris Bell recently joined Acquia to connect visionary leaders in Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations with tools and expertise that will create amazing, personalized digital experiences across channels and devices to optimize fundraising performance, enhance member and volunteer engagement outcomes and improve the efficacy of web-based social and advocacy content messaging.

Chris has turned in high-performance business development and global software sales performances as an independent technology sales consultant and at Oracle, Invitrogen Life Technologies and CA-Technologies. In 2017, he provided a $25,000 Scholarship Award to a woman entrepreneur in Mumbai, India who developed a mobile location intelligence app that is reducing violence against women. He also serves as an NGO advisory board member. Previously, he served as an NGO volunteer event coordinator and a former technology business consultant and advisor to small business executives. Today, it’s Acquia’s values, diverse team, and merging of technology with his personal purpose…that inspire his commitment to impact.

Chris resides in the MD-DC-VA metropolitan area. He studied Political Science as an undergraduate at Norfolk State University in Virginia and received a certificate from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.