What if the Board of Directors and digital fundraising existed in harmony?
Is your charity's board of directors resistant to change? Alberto Cuttica from ENGAGEDin shares 3 strong arguments to help convince it to invest in digital fundraising tools.
When talking about the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit organisation, there is often an implicit assumption. That it is resistant to change. And, in regards to online fundraising, more often an adversary to be beaten than an ally to be won.
This assumption comes from the fact that there is much more talk about how to correct something that is wrong, and less about the things that are already working.
There are some Board of Directors out there that work hard and are committed to innovating & investing in fundraising. They make it an effort when it comes to listening, showing curiosity and sharing their expertise. These boards show that investing in digital fundraising is often easier than it looks.
Today fundraising and digital fundraising go hand in hand. It no longer makes sense to consider them separate things.
When those in a nonprofit organisation who are leading and making decisions about the plan of action say: “Digital is not for us, it doesn’t suit our supporters, it costs money, etc.,” the response should be, “Wait, let’s take an hour to talk about it.”
And in 60 minutes these are 3 key arguments to put on the table and discuss with your board:
1. Digital fundraising is for everyone
The Fundraising Sector must, willingly or unwillingly, take part in the process of digital transformation. Indeed, it must seize the opportunities that innovation offers to live its 4.0 phase and strengthen its presence through digital.
Digital transformation is a compelling fact. It has affected, and will eventually affect every individual and therefore every organisation. And, even more so, it affects and will affect the skills needed in all sectors, not just not-for-profits.
Consciously and proactively, everyone experiences digital on a daily basis in almost everything they do – professionally, publicly and privately. Apart from rare exceptions, everyone is in contact daily with digital technologies, mobile devices, or online communications. Sending or at least receiving stimuli from digital channels is almost unavoidable today. Sometimes even using technological solutions to manage formerly “non-digital” processes.
Everyday we are connected for hours on various digital channels, reading news, buying online, talking with others. So, it would be illogical to claim to be exempt from this new norm. Especially after the boost created by the two years of the pandemic. The limit would be “false resistance”, contradicted by the facts:
the need to be more visible and to oversee communication and information processes, in an open, inclusive, interactive way.
the need to widen the network of relationships in a goal-oriented way. Generate new contacts and manage them for the purposes you have. Including conversion into support & donations.
to simplify the integration processes between different departments of the organisation. Communication, fundraising and sustainability, administrative management, etc. and to make them easier to manage.
If all these premises are true, the statement ‘digital is not for us or our audience’ is not justifiable. Because it would mean denying the reality of the facts and our own strategic objectives.
So, first of all, let’s overcome a prejudicial question, and try to answer the right ask. “Given that our charity and the people in it are also digitised and living the process of digital transformation, how aware are we of it?
How well do we use the current level of digitisation and how could we take advantage of it to improve our business processes? To communicate, to interact, to acquire, to cultivate, to raise funds?
Do we have a digital transformation strategy, a direction for improvement?
These are the right questions that the board of directors of a not-for profit organisation should ask itself. And to which it should give an objective answer.
2. Investing and spending are not the same thing.
The answer to the questions above brings up another issue. An issue to which the board is obviously sensitive to, and to which a step forward in maturity is sometimes required.
When looking at ‘traditional’ fundraising, the ‘average’ board sees it as a solution to a need for resources. It often struggles to understand that in order to grow in reputation, increase consensus and raise money, and do it well, it is almost always necessary to invest resources in people, tools and materials.
The same reasoning applies to digital fundraising, because ‘digital’ does not mean free. Even if it is a fact nowadays that for the same returns, digital investment costs less.
But a mature board knows, or should know, the difference between spending and investing.
Spending typically identifies a “dead” cost that does not produce a return through the added value created by that specific expenditure.
On the other hand, investing always represents a real opportunity (though not a certainty) to increase and improve one’s productivity, and therefore can lead to a higher return.
In other words, every board member should be clear that “saving and not spending” may represent in the end a higher cost than a well made investment.
A check-up of one’s own “digital” status and digital fundraising potential should lead the organisation’s leaders to an informed investment decision. For example, to understand which tools and channels it is appropriate to invest in, and with which priorities. The aim being to obtain a result that would otherwise not be achievable (or would come at an unreasonable cost in terms of time and quality).
3. It makes no sense not to do digital fundraising in today's world
Priorities and objectives are obviously “board things” and are fundamental because digital fundraising is also a wide world. It is necessary to set a course to follow. Between tools and channels for visibility, acquisition and engagement, as well as direct fundraising vehicles.
In any case, with the exponential growth of digital as a channel of cultivation and fundraising (especially on mobile), reinforced by the changes brought on by the pandemic, leads to a conclusion that the Board cannot ignore.
Not setting up a strategy of engagement and digital management with your audiences, and proactive digital fundraising is a great risk in terms of competitiveness for any charity.
It is no secret that the charity sector is also a competitive market, as is fundraising.
In addition, a central concept has been developed for some time. What must be put at the centre of decisions is not the experience and point of view of the organisation’s boards, staff and volunteers. Instead it is the opinion, preferences and behaviour of it’s supporters and potential ones, that should be prioritized.
Their experience of interacting, listening, informing and giving must be easy, straightforward, even pleasant. And adapted to the channels and methods most used today. Indeed, digital transformation does not imply the abandonment of old channels, but at most an integration, an addition, an improvement.
If the ultimate goal of fundraising is precisely the creation of gratifying relationships and experiences with and for the donor, it is no longer possible to ignore this channel. Digital fundraising skills and tools must be used to complement traditional and “offline” fundraising campaigns (events, banquets, direct mailing, etc.).
In conclusion, digital transformation is not a technological process, but a human one. It is in fact always important to talk about a combination of skills and tools. It is only through this union that it is possible to move from fear of expenditure, to confidence in an investment for the growth of the organisation and thus a transformation, maturation, and improvement.
If you need more help and practical arguments to convince your board to invest in digital fundraising tools, download our whitebook!