Key Takeaways from the 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report - Heller Consulting

Key Takeaways from the 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report

How do nonprofit teams fund technology projects, make decisions about technology spending, prioritize technology projects, and balance internal and external needs? These are questions NTEN and Heller Consulting set out to answer in the recent 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report.

Takeaways from the 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report

The survey that fed this report covered nonprofits with varying missions, staff sizes, and budget ranges. While the report includes multiple aspects of technology investments at nonprofits, here are four big takeaways that stood out to me – especially as they relate to what we’re seeing here at Heller Consulting:

1. Nonprofits recognize the need to be strategic about their technology investments.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated that their general organization budget contributes “significantly” to their nonprofit’s technology budget – by far the largest contributor. With funding coming from their own general budget, it’s not too surprising that nearly 40% of respondents include technology planning explicitly in their strategic plans and 33% include it generally. It makes sense that organizations would want strategically plan their tech spending when tech funding is coming out of the general budget.

That’s one reason the Heller Consulting team highly recommends intentional strategic technology planning. We’ve found that nonprofits get more out of their technology investments when they define their goals, establish a clear technology vision, and create a roadmap that pinpoints the right technologies to bring that vision to life.

Discover tips and insights on strategic technology planning. Read the interactive guide, The Nonprofit’s Guide to Making Strategic Digital Tech Decisions

2. Nonprofits could be getting more out of their technology investments.

Training is roughly only 1% of nonprofit technology budgets as a whole. This finding suggests a big opportunity for nonprofits to get more out of their technology investments by ensuring staff members are trained to use their organization’s technology optimally.

Here at Heller Consulting, we emphasize the importance of change management in technology initiatives to prepare organizations for successful launch and adoption of new technology. And training is a critically important part of change management.

Download the Full Report: 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report

3. Organizations are recognizing the need to focus on data.

A look at technology investments over time shows that data and data systems are the highest focus for nonprofits in 2023 – 2024, with security coming in a close second.

It’s encouraging to see this focus on data for current technology investments. Clean, accessible data has always been important for personalized marketing campaigns, donor cultivation, accurate reporting, and more. Today, it’s even more important as nonprofits begin using artificial intelligence (AI) – after all, AI tools are only as good as the data that goes into them.

4. Efficiency is the most significant priority for nonprofits’ technology investment decisions.

Respondents ranked improving inefficient processes and saving time for staff as the top significant influences on technology decisions.

Again, this is encouraging. While making strategic investments in technology is vitally important for any nonprofit, one of the biggest bangs for the buck is to include business process improvement as part of a technology implementation. Doing so helps to ensure that technology investments help staff members do their jobs more efficiently – giving them more time for high-value work, such as donor cultivation, service delivery, and high-touch activities in other mission-critical areas.

5. Organizations rarely report on their technology investments to external stakeholders.

As mentioned above, organizations are mostly relying on finding budget for technology investments within their general operating budgets. They are also rarely reporting on technology investment spending to outside funders, donors, and other stakeholders. This means that many outside parties are unaware – they don’t realize how much investment a nonprofits need to be digitally innovative.

Learn more about how nonprofits are funding and prioritizing technology projects.

This article includes just some of the findings from the report. Get the full 2024 Nonprofit Digital Investments Report to read more data and insights about nonprofit technology investments.

About the Author

Kaia Swift
Kaia first started working with nonprofits at an internship at an organization that served military families. Since then, she has worked for C-SPAN and with organizations focused on education and politics. She brings her knowledge of marketing and nonprofit operations... Read More