Adopting Digital: Is Your Nonprofit Keeping Up?

More than 110 million people in America wear an Apple Watch. Most people use them for telling time and tracking their step count. They may even read texts or answer calls on the device. But did you know that you also can use the watch to pay for items, translate languages, open your garage door, and even start your car? 

The way people use (or don’t fully use) the Apple Watch reflects how many organizations use technology. And, for nonprofits that must carefully consider tech purchases, you want to make sure you’re using those digital products to the fullest. 

As a leader of an organization looking to make a difference in the world, it’s important to understand digital adoption and what it means for your nonprofit’s growth. Not doing so can mean missing an opportunity for significant impact.

What is Digital Adoption?

Digital adoption happens when your organization uses all of its digital tools to the fullest extent. 

For example, if you handle social media marketing in-house, you may be using a social media management tool. You use it to schedule updates, but you may not be taking advantage of all of its capabilities. Have you set up automation to save time? What about inviting other team members to post things? Are all of your social media accounts on the scheduling tool, or are you still posting to some of them in real-time? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, full digital adoption probably isn’t happening.

You have the social media management tool, but you aren’t taking full advantage of it. An organization achieves full digital adoption when they use tools like this to the fullest.

Digital adoption also involves getting buy-in from those you serve, donors, and volunteers so that they can leverage the digital tools available to them.

Digital Adoption Involves Strategy

Adapting the latest technologies isn’t gadget chasing for the sake of having the latest and greatest. It’s strategically selecting tools that empower staff and stakeholders to deliver on the organization’s mission. Your nonprofit’s digital adoption efforts need strategy

Digital adoption is critical from both your organization’s and the user’s point of view. It allows you to get the greatest return from your digital tools and increases your nonprofit’s efficiency.

If your nonprofit regularly employs any of the following traditional adaptations, consider how a technology upgrade might help further your mission. A payoff could free up staff’s time to focus on more forward-thinking work versus day-to-day operations, like balancing physical checkbooks.

Examples of traditional adaptations:

  • Newspapers
  • Encyclopedias
  • Brick and mortar business
  • Paper money and checkbooks
  • Analog media storage
  • Stationary computers
  • In-class only education
  • Static data

Digital platforms can make all the difference for your nonprofit. But just because one person is keen on adopting a new tool doesn’t mean your organization is ready – or willing – to achieve digital adoption. Here are some examples of new digital adaptations your nonprofit could be using. Even if your organization uses these tools, consider whether you’re using them to the fullest.

Examples of New Adaptations:

  • Interactive web-apps
  • ePubs and digital libraries
  • Streaming media
  • Subscription services
  • Machine learning
  • Crowd-funding
  • Gamification
  • Cloud computing
  • Digital marketplace, eCommerce 
  • Virtual and augmented reality

Considering Digital Adoption

It can be overwhelming to know where to start for your nonprofit with so many possible tools. You want to build a digital strategy around the needs of your unique audience. 

Partnering with CauseLabs to create a digital strategy can help align it to your nonprofit goals. We collaborate with your team to think about who your audience is, the challenges they face, and how to serve them best while also understanding how your nonprofit uses and benefits from technology. There are multiple places you can start to achieve digital adoption. We’ll help you figure out which approach best serves you and your community. 

Outreach/Marketing

Digital shouldn’t be the only way to reach potential donors and advocates, but not leveraging it to the fullest is a mistake. Social media is a precious tool for fostering new relationships and inspiring giving. You probably already post about events and campaigns following your content calendar on Facebook. But do you also have a “fundraisers” widget enabled that allows advocates to raise money for your nonprofit? Social media creates an exciting opportunity for people to ask for help, like a birthday donation, instead of waiting for your contribution campaign.

Training 

Travel, accommodations, and food expenses are traditional aspects of hiring new staff or attending conferences. But a video conferencing platform is all you need to handle most aspects of recruiting and onboarding. Consider how the platform might also help with virtual volunteer training or other education.

Toolkit iSkills, a nonprofit based in Kenya, creates opportunities for thousands of youth with limited formal education. It does this through partnerships with public and private industries, like construction, infrastructure, mining, oil, and gas. Before partnering with CauseLabs, Toolkit iSkills used a five-page brochure site to let people know about their services.  The site didn’t help with skills training or finding job opportunities. They did training in-person, making it difficult to scale beyond the few locations in Kenya where staff could travel. CauseLabs built a mobile-friendly web portal to optimize their operations, allowing artisans to take courses online to grow their skills.

Toolkit iskills page view. Header with a form and the footer of the webstie

Program Delivery

Your nonprofit’s online presence should be an asset, not a liability. Think about your audience. What unique needs do they have that you haven’t been able to fill due to lack of technology? How can you go above and beyond to innovate with new tools to deliver on that? CauseLabs’ mission is growing a  positive impact in society. After a designer saw an opportunity to help early learners with penmanship and storytelling, they created My Story. The app includes a canvas with drawing and voice recording features, creating an immersive book-making experience. More than a million people have downloaded it from the App Store since its release.

A screen of an ipad with a cartoon cow, an apple tree, a chicken and chick on green grass. Below it is an iphone screen with Charlie Brown, A bunny and a peacock as user avatars

Vimeo link to My Story: https://vimeo.com/37219721 

Let CauseLabs Help Your Nonprofit with Digital Adoption

Digital adoption isn’t about adopting new technology just for the sake of it. It’s about considering the audience you serve. Then, thinking about how you can use your technology to the fullest to make the most significant difference for them. Partnering with a firm with experience in digital strategy will help you maximize your nonprofit’s digital adoption and help grow positive impact. Contact CauseLabs today for help in leveraging your digital assets to the fullest.

Chief Executive Officer

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