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Donor Participation Project

Learnings from a Donor Innovation Director: How to Manage Change and Adopt New Tools

Dan Lombardi, the Donor Innovation Director at Grand River Hospital Foundation in Canada, shared insights on managing change and adopting new tools at a recent nonprofit conference. His role focuses on problem-solving, improving processes and implementing new technologies to increase donor engagement and staff efficiency.

Lombardi emphasized the importance of an iterative approach to change.

When introducing a new tool or process, his team tests it out and then asks staff for feedback. They communicate that the new approach is not set in stone, and staff input is essential to improving it. An iterative mindset, where missteps and course corrections are expected, helps to alleviate anxiety about change.

Lombardi also stressed open communication, especially when managing change remotely.

His team documents all discussions and decisions in Notion, a collaborative workspace tool, so that everyone has visibility into what’s being worked on. They also hold frequent video calls as a team and one-on-one to discuss challenges and get input.

When it comes to new tools, Lombardi recommended starting with a specific problem you want to solve.

His team adopted Shopify and built their own app to automatically transfer online donations to their database. They use Zapier and ActiveCampaign for donor communication automation. And Notion serves as their internal project management and knowledge base.

Not all staff adopt new tools at the same pace, Lombardi noted.

His team focuses on the intent and benefits of a tool, rather than forcing universal adoption. They work with staff to understand their challenges and make iterative improvements. The key is to start simple by solving one specific problem, even if you have to build your own solution. With the right approach, new tools can increase capacity, not overwhelm it.

Lombardi’s experience shows that managing change and technology in nonprofits requires an experimental mindset, honest communication, and a problem-solving orientation. By focusing on staff needs and iterative improvements, new tools and processes can be introduced without disruption. Overall, Lombardi demonstrates how a questioning, solution-focused approach can drive innovation.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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