For nonprofit fundraisers adopting new technologies, building partnerships and maintaining open communication are crucial to success. This was the key insight from a recent discussion by experts in the field.
With limited budgets and resources, nonprofit teams must ensure new tools are fully utilized and deliver value. But according to Julie, director of annual giving at Carnegie Mellon University, the process from identifying a need to adopting a technology can take 3-12 months for higher education institutions.
The key to navigating this timeline and implementing tools successfully is forging strategic partnerships, both internally and with vendors.
- Internally, fundraisers should partner with IT and advancement services teams early on.
While fundraisers best understand fundraising needs, these teams provide technical and integration expertise to help evaluate options and ensure a smooth rollout. Engaging them early builds buy-in and avoids delayed implementation.
- Externally, fundraisers should ask vendors about opportunities to join beta testing or pilot cohorts.
This allows hands-on experience with tools and surfaces key questions about functionality, integration, and reporting. With open communication, vendors can refine tools to better suit nonprofit needs.
- During implementation, coordination and communication are also critical.
For example, with a texting platform, nonprofits need guidelines on who can send what and when. Without this, donors may receive too many or inappropriate messages, damaging experiences and trust.
- While the integration and training phases are important, the final and most critical step is adoption.
Regular use of a technology solution, whether through a core group of “power users” or institution-wide, demonstrates its value. Adoption also relies on managing expectations about what new tools can achieve. Overpromising risks frustration and reduced buy-in if promises are not met.
The bottom line
With strategic partnerships, open communication, and realistic expectations, nonprofits can successfully navigate technology selection and implementation to choose tools that streamline and strengthen their fundraising. But adoption and regular use are the only true measures of success. Continuous feedback and coordination help maximize the impact of technology on fundraising goals.
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