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When I’m traveling and speaking to nonprofits, one of the most common questions I get is about how to get people on board when it comes to new nonprofit technology. Things are always evolving and changing in the tech world—new tools are introduced continually, websites are always changing, mobile technology is constantly advancing. So what do you do when you have people in your organization who are reluctant to change?
Here’s one of my best recommendations from a question I often receive:
Q: Our board doesn’t readily embrace investing in nonprofit technology. Do you have any recommendations on how to change this within our organization?
A: Welcome to the club. This is a common issue among nonprofits all over the U.S. I don’t think that I’ve ever spent time with a group of nonprofits, at a conference or convention, where this wasn’t a common theme. It seems that there are always a few people, whether it’s a board member or an executive director, who may not be quite ready to accept new advances in nonprofit technology. It’s a common issue.
What I recommend, whenever you have people who are somewhat resistant or dragging their feet on embracing new tools or technology, is to make sure that you get input from people outside your organization. In my experience, that old phrase, “Nobody is an expert in their own backyard,” still rings true. If I tell my children that I train people how to use social media, which is one of the classes that I teach, they laugh at me and think, “How can my dad possibly know anything about social media?” Because to them, I am certainly no expert.
It’s the same thing with our board members or even our paid staff—often, our level of expertise is taken with a grain of salt or minimized a bit because we’re around these people all the time and we get to know outside of our professional involvement. So when it comes to investing in new nonprofit technology or new tools that may make our organizations run more efficiently or effectively, the people we interact with daily may question whether or not we know what we’re talking about.
What I’ve found to be really helpful is to find another organization that can vouch for whatever you’re trying to introduce, whether it be some advancement in nonprofit technology or a new tool. This is one of the great things about being in the nonprofit space—so many organizations are interested in helping each other. We all want to make the world a better place. So if you talk to somebody on the other side of town or maybe a neighboring community that’s in a similar type of organization, and they’re knocking it out of the park with their website, social media or donor database management—whatever it is that they’re doing—bring them in and ask them to share their story.
It’s really all about stories. We all connect and relate to the stories that each of us has to tell. Have them share their story. I think that’s probably the most impactful thing that I’ve seen. When someone else comes in who’s an authority—and they’re not from your organization—and they talk about the differences they’ve seen with their new website, with new nonprofit technology, or whatever, it really works.