Invest in organizational innovation for nonprofits

You’re Not Investing in Technology. You’re Investing in Organizational Innovation

David Cady

One thing I’ve realized being in the software world for the past several years is that the hardest part about adopting a new piece of technology is not utilizing the new bells and whistles you get, it’s the cultural and process change that comes along with this change.

Let’s face it, there are about seven people on the planet right now that actually like change especially when “change” means upending the daily job routine they’ve come to own over the years. Every time I get a chance to speak with a nonprofit, I make it a priority to help them visualize and understand what changing their CRM really means.

A good CRM and technology strategy can be one of the most impactful decisions an organization can make, which is why investing the time to create a good strategy around adoption is key. The folks over at Classy have a great article on the value of technology adoption and how leading organizations are twice as technologically effective as struggling organizations.

Every organization is different, but here are some key principles in today’s world that can help make adoption easier, and ensure you get the most out of your CRM investment.

Make it Accessible

A CRM is at its best when everyone in the organization from board members to volunteers can interact and enrich the data. Now this doesn’t mean it’s a free for all (we’ll talk about this later), but far too often, access is restricted to users either because:

  • It’s too costly for extra licenses
  • The organization is worried about control

In today’s world, generosity is fueled by human connections which means everyone who is a part of your organization is a potential advocate for your mission. Wouldn’t it be great if you could capture all those relationships, notes, and phone calls going through the entire organization?

Aside from enriching the data in your donor management styles, access to contribute to the data in your CRM creates excitement and engagement at all levels of the organization. Ultimately this will make for better, more focused decision-making that will drive support and engagement.

Mobile Matters

Gone are the days where you have to be strapped to a computer to get meaningful work done. In fact, 65% of all digital consumption is being done a mobile device. Not only should a good CRM have a great mobile app, your organization should prioritize and encourage its utilization by all users.

At the end of the day, a CRM is best when everyone is accessing it. Mobile is the greatest tool you have to make your CRM accessible. Think about your major gift officers who are often on the road now being able to fully manage their day without opening their laptop. Stuck in the airport waiting for a delayed flight? Open your CRM mobile app. Bad wifi connection at lunch? Grab your phone.

What used to take 5 minutes to update on a desktop now just takes a swipe of the finger on the phone. Demographics aside, users are more eager to engage with your organizational software if it fits into what they do with everyday life. Nothing is more ‘everyday’ than our smartphones. Make mobile a must.

Create a Process. Keep it Secure

I figured a few of you had a mini-aneurism when I said that you should give access to your entire team, board and volunteers.

While I do encourage giving access to all users, I also know that to do so you must set limits on this access by defining clear roles and permission sets. Creating user stories is an excellent idea to understand who needs access and what they’ll do. Walk through each team member’s daily activities and think about all the valuable touch points within a CRM they need to access.

  • Are they a volunteer or employee?
  • Are they speaking to donors directly?
  • Are they doing data entry?
  • Are they responsible for gift entry or financial matters?
  • Are they compiling and analyzing data for the management or executive team?

The answers to these questions will help inform what a user needs access to and what permissions their role requires.

Modern software today should have the ability to give permissions and access on a variety of levels. Make sure you create user profiles and security that gives your users access to the data that is vital to their role, but also access to data that they could potentially refine and enhance. When you help define ‘what’ they can see, you can then better articulate the value of ‘why’ you want them to see it and how it will bring about positive change.

Plan Ahead and Make Innovation a Priority

The advice here is simple, but many times overlooked. One of the biggest challenge with the adoption of new technology is the pushback you may get from users.

Generally, this push back is due to lack of communication around how it will affect their job. Remember when I said people don’t like change? They especially don’t like change if they see it interfering with or changing how they’ve done their job and how they’ve contributed to the organization.

Your team members are the most important part of your organization. A CRM should empower them to do their jobs and contribute like never before… but unfortunately, many CRM solutions handcuff and stifle the people who are most passionate about your mission rather than empower. The key here is to over-communicate how new software will enable them to work smarter and more efficiently to fulfill your organization’s mission.

If your team doesn’t feel or see the larger vision as to how this will help grow the mission, then ultimately they’ll use it as little as possible, which means the richness and quality of the data suffers and you’ll have successfully purchased the software version of a paper weight.

Virtuous strives to make sure nonprofits feel comfortable not only with our technology, but also with the positive change it will bring about. Having a strong strategy when changing CRMs is paramount for its success. Schedule a one-on-one demo with our team to see how we’re committed to providing a best-in-class CRM solution to nonprofits dedicated to innovation and how our Customer Success Coaches can help your organization thrive with a new CRM.

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