3 Key Lessons in Nonprofit Change Management - Heller Consulting

3 Key Lessons in Nonprofit Change Management


When planning a technology initiative, scheduling active change management isn’t always the first priority on the to-do list. This is unfortunate because incorporating change management strategies is one of the most effective ways to ensure a successful project. At Heller Consulting, we’ve seen change management increase user adoption and ultimately give organizations a better ROI on their technology investments. Here are some of the key lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Lesson 1: Communication

Every good project manager knows the key to a successful project is good communication. As a project manager, I once was scratching my head about why technology implementation projects were at times such a struggle for nonprofits. I thought I had everything right – my timeline was perfect, I was on track with budget, what was going wrong? I quickly learned that I ignored one vital piece: communication with the people who were actually going to be using the new technology.

We’ve road tested project communication techniques and compiled them all into our free resource: Project Communication Plan for Technology Change

A true change management plan will vastly improve team communication. One of the first steps in a good change management plan is to survey your key stakeholders and staff to gather their perception of the project. Through this effort you can learn how to communicate more effectively, identify your key advocates and even learn how they want you to communicate with them.

Don’t assume your standard communication plans are sufficient, you don’t have time or “I know my staff well enough”. There is no substitute for a strong change management communication strategy.

Lesson 2: Reinforce the change with a non-technical why statement

It’s evitable when you change technology tools that procedures and process will change, hopefully to become more efficient. But simply viewing a technology change as a new system to learn misses the opportunity of true digital transformation. Identify a strong “why statement” at the start of the project. Why is your organization making this change? What impact will you be able in your community by having better technology? Write this out. Post it where your team can see it. Reiterate it in team meetings. Be prepared to help your team identify your objective independent of technology. Part of good change management is helping stakeholders see their unique processes as part of the bigger initiative.

You can download a template for a why statement here.

Take all your key processes back to a simple non-technical objective. This will open up the opportunity for everyone to see the real goals and increase buy-in to suggested solutions. Sometimes the best way to see this reality is to sit down with a seasoned change management expert who can help you drill down to that true business objective.

Lesson 3: People matter

The heart of any change is people. And change management is what’s used to usher people along as they respond to change. Regardless of the type of change that you might be leading in your organization, it’s vitally important to remember that not everyone deals with transition in the same way. You’ve probably known people who have tons of energy and are always keen to jump into the next big thing. And you’ve probably known people who hold onto the ways things are done as if their lives depended on it.  Understanding and working with those different people is key to successful change management. The key to working with them is to unify and communicate. Listen carefully to their fears and address them and lead by example.

Change management is about unifying people, not pacifying them. Start communication early and encourage everyone to be part of the process, not a spectator of it.

The key is don’t approach change management as a “have-to,” consider it a success tool. Don’t leave the whole change management plan to one person. This has to be a team effort from the top-down. You don’t have to be an executive cheerleader if that’s not your personality, but you do have to be a proponent of healthy change.

Read more about change management

For more information on change management please download these resources or contact us to talk. We’re happy to discuss how incorporating a change management program can help ensure the success of your next project.


Our certified change management experts put together a free guide that explains more about change management for nonprofits. We also include success stories from the Canadian Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish America, and others. Download today!

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The Nonprofit's Guide to Change Management


A practical guide for nonprofit leaders navigating change.

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Project Communication Plan


Road tested project communication techniques for every phase of a technology implementation. Download and start using today no matter where you are in your technology journey.

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