Why Nonprofits Refuse to Invest in Digital Strategies

Written by Datis Admin

July 18, 2018

Why Nonprofits Refuse to Invest in Digital Strategies

Digital strategies are nothing new. Multi-million dollar companies around the country have been utilizing the latest in technology throughout their workforces for many years now, completely automating processes that were once performed manually. With that said, research shows that nonprofit executives are now starting to understand the importance of investing in technology and implementing digital strategies across their organizations.

Earlier this year, the Drive Towards Digital was identified as a top priority for the year ahead for nonprofit organizations. The DATIS 2017 Executive Priorities Survey, which received responses from over 400 nonprofit executives, also found that 88% of nonprofit executives believed that digital strategies would help them make more strategic decisions and 83% believed digital strategies would help their organization serve more clients. It appears that for one of the first times in history, nonprofit executives are starting to consider splashing the cash and investing in technology that could evolve and grow their organizations.

This type of thinking is much needed at a time like this, where organizations are relying too heavily on manual processes. The DATIS 2017 Executive Priorities Survey also found that 93% of nonprofit organizations are still using a manual approach to time-consuming processes that can be easily automated with digital strategies. It becomes clear that there are obstacles and challenges that making executives think twice before investing in technology.

The survey then went on to pinpoint exactly what these challenges were by directly asking respondents, “What challenges does your organization face regarding implementing digital strategies?” The top three responses, in order, included ‘Budget Restraints,’ ‘Lack of Time,’ and ‘Lack of Qualified Talent to Manage Tools.’ Let’s look at these challenges more in-depth.

Budget Restraints
As many know, nonprofits heavily rely on government grants, corporate contributions, and individual donations to fund their operations and fuel their growth. This often limits the power executives have when it comes to finding innovative ways to continue their organization’s growth. They may have great ideas, but they lack the budget to put them to the test.

However, the executives that claimed budget constraints were an issue are the same ones that said digital strategies will help them make more strategic decisions and serve more clients. Nonprofit executives should be prioritizing digital strategies as part of their budget instead of making excuses. Key stakeholders would understand the increase in overhead if they saw the potential positive impact the investment would have. In addition, executives should consider the amount of money that automating manual processes with digital strategies will save their organization in the years to come.

Lack of Time
Nonprofit executives also identified a lack of time as an obstacle when trying to implement digital strategies within their organization. This is a common rebuttal when it comes to making such an investment. Implementing digital strategies typically involves a great deal of time and patience. A lot of executives are hesitant about putting their progress on hold for lengthy periods of time.

While a lack of time to implement digital strategies can be seen as a valid excuse, it’s important to look at how much time implementing digital strategies can help their organizations in the long run. A recent report by CareerBuilder stated, “HR managers who do not fully automate say they lose an average of 14 hours a week manually completing tasks that could be automated.” That’s almost 3 hours a day during a typical work week for most nonprofits. Looking at statistics like these, it becomes obvious why executives claim they don’t have the time to implement digital strategies.

Lack of Qualified Talent to Manage Tools
The third biggest challenge executives claimed was stopping them from implementing digital strategies within their organization was a lack of qualified staff to manage tools.  It’s critical for organizations to have employees that can ensure that the digital strategies get used to their fullest potential. Having these employees gives executives a peace of mind when making such an investment.

Luckily, today’s digital tools and software platforms have gotten significantly less complex and can easily be used by all employees regardless of their technological abilities. The learning curve is nowhere near as steep as it used to be, and implementations are more thorough than ever before.

The 2017 Executive Insights Survey revealed an interesting revelation amongst nonprofit executives. While they prioritize the Drive Towards Digital and understand the immense value of investing in digital strategies, they are still hesitant about moving forward. Understanding that such strategies can save their organization time and money while simultaneously preparing them for the future is the first and most important step of the process. The next step is finding the right solution that is designed specifically for the challenges that their organizations face.

This DATIS Blog was written by James Clark, DATIS, on September 12th, 2017 and may not be re-posted without permission.