Nonprofit leaders know that technology paves the way for a human-focused experience with their donors. But knowing the importance of technology and being able to ascertain what tools are needed for success are two very different things!
Before you take a blind leap of faith, however, you should consider an RFP process that will help you identify the right technology and partners to help you achieve your fundraising goals. We discussed this winning RFP process in a recent podcast conversation with Raising HECK Technology, and what follows is a summary of their recommendations.
#1 Discover What You Need
So often leaders see what isn’t working with their current tech and want to solve the problems quickly by replacing it all with something new. The options on the market are many, each one touting benefits and success stories that encourage a speedy switch. But taking a step back gives you a chance to have an objective vantage point. From here you can find the answers to questions like:
● What are your outcomes and goals?
● What are your other business processes like?
● What is the exact challenge you are trying to solve?
Once you have these answers, you are ready to look at the technology you already have with fresh eyes.
#2 Assess the Tech You Have Now
Taking all you learned in the discovery phase, now you need to take a look at what you currently have in place. This is commonly referred to as your “tech stack” because it appreciates the way all of the pieces work together to create a holistic solution.
● Make an inventory of everything you have including cost, renewal dates, and maintenance fees.
● Note what challenges the solutions are supposed to be solving.
● Make a real honest assessment of how well your tech is performing these functions and carefully note gaps as well as overlaps.
It could be that the tech stack you have is getting the job done. It is more likely that you find some gaps and overlaps that must be addressed. It could be that your organization has grown out of your technology and it just doesn’t have capability you need now, or you have built some kind of work-around that was put into place years ago and now it breaks more often than it works!
At this point you may learn that your current system truly isn’t a good fit—but you’ll also have the correct information for making good replacement choices. You may also learn that your current system meets your current needs—but your team needs to learn how to use it in a new or more efficient way. Either decision is good as long as it is based on empirical data delivered through a honest analysis of existing systems.
#3 Consider the Tech You’ll Need in the Future
In addition to understanding the solutions you have in place today, you also need to take a long-term view to consider what you will need in the future to accomplish your organization’s mission. Ask:
● What new programs or growth do you expect for your nonprofit and mission in the coming years?
● What type of technology support do you think you are going to need to make those new plans and visions come true?
#4 Calculate the Human Factor
Up to this point, our information gathering has focused on things like goals, internal processes, and future needs. But one thing you cannot forget about is your team—the people who will be using the tools that allow you to boost your human-to-human connections. The question you must ask is:
● Do we have the right people in the right positions with the right skills?
This is crucial because you may find serious gaps in your staff’s knowledge of how to use the technology that must be filled before you can use the tools properly. Those gaps could also be
related to the number of people or to the training available.
Very often you will discover that your team excels in one area over another – simply using the tools that they like best instead of those you have invested heavily in. For example, many fundraisers are stronger visual kinesthetic learners vs. those who excel in classroom teaching. So when scoping out new tools, be sure to keep the end user in mind. Most solutions today have nice user interfaces however, you will want to match the visual imperatives to the business
initiatives to make sure the investment will be used properly by the proper people on your team.
By following these RFP recommendations, the proposal process to choose new technology solutions will lead your organization down the right path to the type of success you have in mind – fully adopted solutions that make your organization more efficient.
And if you need help answering these questions and making the right tech choice, check out Raise Heck.
Looking to get deeper insights out of your donor database? Get a demo of the Pursuant GivingDNA Platform today!