Nov 07 2023

Four Areas Nonprofits Should Prioritize When It Comes to Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a process — especially for resource-strapped nonprofits. Here are the core areas to focus on first.

Nearly three-quarters of nonprofits have adopted or are in the process of adopting a digital transformation strategy. This trend, according to the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), is an uptick from previous years, in which roughly half of nonprofits reported the same.

But nonprofits, especially those with financial constraints, need to be selective about their core areas of focus to ensure that each investment optimizes resources for maximum impact. Here are four key areas nonprofits should prioritize on their digital transformation journey.

RELATED: Explore nonprofit technology solutions that will help your organization achieve its mission.

Priority No. 1: Boost Data Analytics to Improve Fundraising Tactics

Nonprofits thrive on information. Digging into data can help IT leaders gain insights for decision-making, particularly when it comes to fundraising.

That’s why investing in data analytics is key. It allows organizations to see who is donating, and in what patterns. It helps them identify and solicit donors by giving them visibility into what turns a one-time donor into a recurring one, which means more effective fundraising and targeting.

For many organizations too much data can be a black box, especially if IT leaders can’t manage or see it all. But partnerships like the one between Microsoft and the Open Source Imaging Consortium can help organizations unlock the power of their data.

As Dr. Simon Walsh of the National Heart and Lung Institute told OSIC, “As a result of the OSIC Data Repository, we’re essentially looking at data sets that are similar in size to some of the big, longitudinal data sets seen in cardiovascular and lung cancer screening trials. That’s the real excitement here. To be able to mine that kind of data using these new technologies.”

Click the banner to view our list of 30 nonprofit IT influencers this year.

Priority No. 2: Upskill Employees for the Future

Training employees on new technology is essential to making sure that nonprofits see a return on their tech investments. According to NTEN, 65 percent of nonprofits are indeed investing in digital skills training, but that still leaves 35 percent of nonprofits without a skills training program.

As Amy Regan Morehouse, ServiceNow’s senior vice president of global education, told BizTech,  “We’re working with nonprofits that are focused on moms who are trying to work or veterans who are trying to work or anybody who never saw themselves in tech. Those groups help mentor and support people as they’re learning something new.”

And for Jacqui Canney, ServiceNow’s, chief people officer, upskilling is simply fundamental. “You see more conversation now around skills being the currency for growth,” she said in a prior BizTech interview.

DISCOVER: Find out how application modernization supports digital transformation.

Priority No. 3: Update Legacy Systems

Upgrading or updating older systems can help ease the path of transformation, allowing staff to adapt to new tech gradually rather than being overwhelmed with a new system all at once. Adding modern applications to legacy infrastructure can also help keep processes familiar while organizations automate routine operations.

Priority No. 4: Streamline Operations and Go Paperless

Nearly 84 percent of respondents to the NTEN survey said that moving to a paperless system would help streamline operations and declutter workflow. Paperless payment for members and supporters, paperless internal and external communications, and digital marketing campaigns can all support an organization’s sustainability goals.

These are all pivotal steps for nonprofits to take, but it’s essential to remember that digital transformation is a gradual process. But with so many possible directions in which an organization can go, prioritizing these areas will help nonprofits come out strong and optimize their resources.

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