Nonprofit Technology

Here’s How (And Why) Nonprofits Should Work Towards Digital Maturity

By | 6 min read | Published

Keep your nonprofit moving forward through digitization—follow the steps laid out in this guide.

Over the last two years, Charities Aid Foundation America (CAF America) has been working on a COVID-19 report series, an ongoing project in which they survey charitable organizations from all over the world to measure the impact of the pandemic on their operations.

These reports brought many notable findings to light, two of which were:

1) All sizes of charities, large or small, have seen a reduction in donations during COVID-19 and

2) 76% of nonprofits are looking for support or advice on finding new ways to fundraise through digital technology.

There’s a high probability that one or both of these findings are true for your charity, and as the owner or leader of a nonprofit organization, it’s on your shoulders to find a solution that will get you through slow funding periods.

Download Now: Here’s Why Digital Maturity is The Answer To Your Nonprofit’s Funding Slump [eBook]

Digital maturity may be the solution you’re looking for, which is why we’ve put together this guide that will explain what it is, why you should be working towards it, and most importantly, resources to get you started. So, let’s start by defining the term.

What is digital maturity?

Digital maturity refers to an organization’s ability to create value through technology. However, because technology is constantly evolving, digital maturity is not something you achieve and then move on from—it is an ongoing commitment.

For nonprofits and charities, digital maturity can be thought of as using software to streamline processes such as scheduling volunteers, reaching new audiences, communicating with donors, and forecasting fundraising income.

Why is digital maturity important for nonprofits?

According to Salesforce’s Nonprofit Trends Report, nonprofits’ digital maturity level is directly related to how likely they are to succeed in every area; from fundraising to marketing to program management. Over 850 nonprofit professionals in six different countries were surveyed for this report, and the results revealed that nonprofits with high digital maturity were much better positioned to navigate to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonprofits with high digital maturity are more likely to exceed their goals

For instance, Salesforce’s report found that only 7% of nonprofits with low digital maturity were on track to exceed their fundraising goals, compared to 27% of nonprofits with high digital maturity.

In fact, nonprofits with high digital maturity were the most likely to exceed their goals in every category, which is why digitization is something that every nonprofit should be working towards.

Strive for digital maturity with these 3 tips

Ideally, undergoing a digital transformation would be as simple as installing new software, but it’s actually much more evolutionary in nature. Follow these tips to take the first steps towards digital maturity at your nonprofit.


Audit your current processes

It’s nearly impossible to envision a fully transformed future without an understanding of how things currently work at your nonprofit. With that in mind, the first step is to detail the tech your organization is currently using and how it helps (or hinders) their work.

In order to do this, you’ll need to involve team leaders who oversee different functions of your organization, such as program directors and campaign managers.

Set up a time to discuss what tools the teams are using, the process employees follow when they use them, and how they’re connected to other departments or software within the organization. Pay close attention and take notes during these conversations in order to create a list of requirements for new technology investments.

Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • Are there any offline processes we need to digitize?
  • What challenges or frustrations does your team have with the current tools you use?
  • What features would you consider must-haves or nice-to-haves in a new tool?
  • Do you feel like a change in software could improve our operational efficiency?

Determine what data you need to track

Everyone knows the old adage, “knowledge is power.” It’s stuck around because it’s true, and collecting more, better data and using it to make decisions is one of the top benefits of digitization. For example, your nonprofit can use data to stay on track towards goals, prioritize the most meaningful tasks, quantify the impact of your work, and pinpoint future opportunities.

When planning your future software ecosystem, data collection, reporting, and analytics should be a top priority. This means that you’ll need to do two things: first, identify the types of data that would be the most beneficial to track, and second, determine how to make that data easily available to anyone in your organization who would need to access it.

While the latter is difficult to do without knowing what software solutions you’ll need to integrate, you can start determining which data to collect by answering the following questions:

  • Which metrics would help us forecast our fundraising income?
  • What type of data visualizations could help us solicit more donations from donors?
  • What information could we include in grant applications to help us secure funding?
  • How can we use data to better track our budget and progress towards funding goals?
  • What other data would reveal the true impact of our work?
Data visualization in Blackbaud Fundraising
A data visualization created in Blackbaud Fundraising (Source)

Find the right tools

Keeping the pain points your team experiences with your current tech in mind, you should start to evaluate software options that fit your list of requirements.

We know that’s easier said than done considering the volume of nonprofit technology out there (there are over 350 tools in our nonprofit software directory alone). For that reason, we’ve provided an overview of three kinds of tools frequently used by nonprofits below, along with a link to those category’s highest rated systems:

  • Nonprofit CRM software: Constituent relationship management (CRM) software helps nonprofits track their relationships with donors and other constituents. The tools record basic donor data and past interactions, and create tailored outreach strategies.
  • Donation management software: Nonprofits use these tools to manage relationships with donors and improve donor retention. These platforms primarily store donor information (including past contributions and volunteer work). They can also be used for in-person or online fundraising or to establish multichannel communication.
  • Nonprofit project management software: These platforms are used by nonprofits to plan projects, set timelines, track budgets, and manage resources. They often include collaboration and reporting features as well.

And if you’d like additional guidance for choosing the next tech investment for your nonprofit, we’re here to help. All you have to do is answer a few questions and we’ll give you a list of personalized software recommendations—for free.

Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.

About the Author

Sierra Rogers

Sierra Rogers

Sierra Rogers is a senior content writer at Capterra, covering human resources, eLearning, and nonprofits with expertise in recruiting and learning and development strategies. With a background in the tech and fashion industries, she has extensive experience keeping her finger on the pulse of the latest trends and reporting on how they impact our world. Sierra enjoys cooking and dining out, collecting vintage designer goods, and spending time with her pets at home in Austin, Texas.

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