Planning for Future Technology and Communication Needs

Planning for Future Technology and Communication Needs

Planning for Future Technology and Communication Needs

We’ve been working with a client on strengthening how they use Salesforce. During this process, I’ve realized that their Bucket set-up is no longer the best option for their organization. A one-to-one model makes more sense. If you’re curious about the difference click here. When the organization set up their Salesforce account, a bucket model made more sense. After ten years, their audience and data needs have changed.

How do you balance short-term ease and long-term flexibility? What may be the easiest and most cost-effective solution may cause issues in the future. Strategic plans can (sometimes) be beneficial, but for technology and communications planning, it’s impossible to plan five years in the future. For small nonprofits, this is a critical challenge. How can you justify investing in a more comprehensive online fundraising platform if you’re concerned about keeping the lights on.

As you’re thinking about the future, there are a few trends to consider for planning. Below we highlight a few questions to consider for each area.

Text Messages

Do you see any possibility of utilizing text messaging to communicate with your supporters? If so, what could that program look like? Who is your target audience? What segmentation would you want to create?

Mapping out these ideas is important to do before looking for vendors to help with this issue. Balancing strategy and technological capability can be tricky. You want to find the technology to meet your needs, instead of developing your strategy based off of the limitations of the product you signed a contract for.

Mobile App Development

Our industry is fraught with people claiming to have the silver bullet to solve your fundraising or visibility problems. Social media will not single-handedly create a new donor base. A “viral” video will not make your cause an overnight sensation. A major gifts officer cannot bring their robust rolodex and create a major gifts program overnight.

Some nonprofits have developed mobile applications to support their work. The successful apps are solving an issue and providing a convenience for the user. While mobile applications can have value, they won’t succeed without a purpose. Who is your target audience? Why should they download this? What solution, convenience, or entertainment are you providing for the user? How does this tie into your mission?  These questions are critical to consider as you think about app development.

Database Management

This can be one of the most challenging areas to project. Your audience and communication channels will change. Your pipeline for programming or donations will evolve.

There are many questions to consider when thinking about your database in the future. Do you project your audience groups changing? How do you plan on connecting your database to outbound communication? At what rate has your database been growing? Do you foresee any reasons that growth may increase or decrease? Do you think that the relationship management of your constituents will change?

These questions are a starting point for your organization to begin discussions around how you plan for your changing technology and communication needs in the future.

Below are a few links from the last week that we enjoyed:

  1. When accidentally sent a text message intended for 4,000 people to their 2.1million list, they had to react quickly to avoid a fall-out. The Chronicle of Philanthropy provides the details on their response.
  2. January is critical to donor retention. Allison Gauss of Stay Classy shares the reasons why.
  3. Carolyn Stein of Network For Good updates year end online giving numbers.
  4. Someone who I recently followed on Twitter and highly recommend is Sheena Greer. I enjoyed her playdate concept and the need for creating safe spaces for nonprofit professionals.
  5. And the recommended longer read of the week is from Steve Boland of NPQ who details advantages, challenges, and data with different giving day structures.

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