It’s hard to believe that 2018 has come and almost gone. We’ve tackled big problems for our clients, solved challenging technology puzzles and collaborated to put forth some of our best work to date. Before we look ahead to an exciting 2019, we chatted with some of our team members about their 2018 reflections and what work inspired them this year.
Technology Strategies for Nonprofits & Higher EdBetter engage with your constituents, more effectively deliver your services, expand the impact of your mission – these are the key strategic goals of forward-thinking organizations. Contemporary strategies and technologies offer a wide array of options to help you realize these goals. For 20 years we’ve been helping nonprofits develop and align their strategies, technology and operations. Find out how we can help your organization >>
There’s a reason many of us put off getting a cell phone until we have to: for the first couple days (or weeks, in some cases), everything takes longer. There’s the upfront investment of time to set preferences the way you like them, authenticate passwords, and learn which buttons do what when. Getting a new device makes you think again, makes you pay attention. It can be tiresome, inconvenient and sometimes frustrating. This same scenario plays out on a large scale across organizations when making a large technology change, and it’s called a productivity dip.
I’m happy to be attending the NetHope Global Summit in Dublin and Microsoft is shaking things up with the announcement of a new wave of development on nonprofit technology within their Dynamics CRM offerings. After decades of providing their software and other solutions for free to nonprofits, a generous but uncomplicated offering, they are now proactively leveraging their commercial solutions to address nonprofit needs. In our firm’s twenty-plus years perhaps the only equivalent event has been the dramatic expansion of Salesforce.org’s presence in the marketplace over the last several years. They have similarly leveraged commercial solutions and in the process disrupted the tight hold on the nonprofit technology market that Blackbaud had enjoyed. This time, however, Blackbaud is embracing these developments and making their own important moves. At the same time, Salesforce.org continues its ongoing innovation. Let’s unpack what this all looks like, and what it may mean for your organization.
I attended an ACMP Texas event in September and one session particularly inspired me. Lanette Ferguson of TEKsystems presented on the idea of using Journey Maps as a change management tool in technology implementations and I thought it was so awesome, I created a version that could be used for nonprofit tech projects.
Your organization is stuck in the 20th century, technology-wise and it’s taking a toll on your ability to work effectively. You turn to a new, shiny CRM system that promises to address all your needs and help your team make a big impact. The implementation project starts. Everyone seems to be on board. But as time goes on, the stress of learning new technology piled onto normal everyday tasks begins to wear on employees and morale diminishes. The excitement at the beginning of the project has faded, productivity is dropping, and you’re wondering what could have been done differently to ensure project success.
With nearly 200 sessions specifically for nonprofits, over 3,000 sessions total and about 170,000 attendees, Dreamforce 2018 will certainly be an engaging event. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to make the most of it, but the good news is, there is plenty going on, so even if you miss the mark on a couple of your selections or find you really need a nap halfway through day 2, you’ll still get your money’s worth. That said, we do have a couple tips for making the most of it.
We noticed something that mirrors our own experience with clients: last year analytics and online marketing were a huge emphasis, with a lot of new announcements about Einstein, Marketing Cloud and other marketing tools. While there are still great sessions about those things, there is a greater range of sessions on nonprofit functional areas. You can find sessions on volunteer management, call and service center, program analytics and more. This is what we’ve seen in the sector too: amazing organizations rolling up their sleeves and coming up with smart ways to use Salesforce to improve their work across their organizations. Analytics and automation are not just promising buzzwords, but practical tools being used to get the work done. What’s better than that?
Below is a list of the sessions that caught our eyes. We hope you have a great time and we hope to see you there!
We recently had the opportunity to develop a CRM Roadmap for a large food bank that wanted to streamline its systems and business processes to better serve its community. Like most food banks, it has a loyal constituency: many volunteers are also clients; many donors also volunteer; individuals might first encounter the food bank through an employer-sponsored activity and then sign up for a peer-to-peer fundraising event.
Instead of internal systems showing the many ways people connect with the food bank, employees often find out from the constituents themselves. This is frustrating for both the constituents and the food bank team. More than ever, nonprofit supporters and clients expect to be known. They expect that when an organization sends them an annual appeal request, it is doing so with a full understanding of giving history, past volunteer hours and gala attendance over the years.
That is all much easier said than done.
But it is possible.
Guest Post by Aly Sterling
When the only constant element of our political and economic environment is its daily instability, it can be difficult guide your nonprofit with confidence. You can’t always predict what will happen next month (or even next week), but there are some steps you can take to begin ensuring the stability of your organization.
By assessing and optimizing your fundraising strategy, you can increase your organization’s endurance and adaptability in uncertain times.
That is, a strong and adaptive internal process for fundraising strategy is the ultimate safeguard against a rocky environment.
Change is hard for most people and launching a new CRM system introduces a level of change that can be surprising. “It’s just a piece of software,” we think. But then we log in and start to go about our work and find that nothing is as easy we thought it would be. This isn’t because of system problems (though new systems often have kinks that need to be worked out); it’s because the process, the visuals and sometimes even the data are different than they used to be. All of a sudden, it feels like everything has changed. The most successful system launches are accompanied by clear, effective and frequent communications that prepare people for the new ways of working and let them know that support is available. In the pages that follow, we outline key components of the communications that make the launch process go as smoothly as possible, complete with real examples from our clients.