Deciding on a new nonprofit technology solution is tough. New tools constantly enter the marketplace, each with a different added feature and price point. The sheer volume of choices can cause confusion, not to mention your constituents’ expectations are evolving rapidly, which means your technology needs are too. Therefore, the solution you ultimately choose must be carefully considered. It has to add value to your organization, meet the needs of your constituents, and be more durable than a passing fad.
In theory, a technology solution’s salesperson should be your partner through the buying journey, providing insight and informed recommendations. In reality, however, the balance of power skews heavily in favor of the salesperson. Not only do they have much more experience in selling than you have in buying, but they also have a vested interest in pushing their product over the competition. Fear not though – or at least fear less – because at Plenty we spend a good deal of time thinking about and using technology systems to support fundraising campaigns. Consider us your platform-agnostic guide to selecting the technology solution that will best optimize your peer-to-peer program.We’ve developed the following three technology guidelines to point you in the right direction:
- Don't customize everything.
- Focus on data management and reporting.
- Leverage social media.
A technology solution that forces you to overly customize its settings and processes should be avoided. If you have a technology solution, figure out how to use its native functionality to support your business. If it doesn’t inherently support your internal processes, consider finding a different technology solution. It is easy to assume that your needs are different from other companies and organizations out there, but this usually isn’t the case. Only in extreme cases after confirming that the customization will give your program a unique advantage should you break the mold and create a customized solution. If you select this route, pay an expert to do it – don’t try to do it in-house.
If your organization, whose main purpose is not technology-focused, attempts to customize the product yourself the process will more than likely be more expensive and problematic than if you were to hire an outside agency to execute the project. Not to mention it will use up valuable time that your team could be spending on revenue driving tasks that are more closely aligned to your goals.
It’s also important to be realistic that the customization will be the “gift that keeps on giving.” The installation and customization of the platform is only the first piece of the puzzle. From there you will continue to bear the financial and time costs of developing each new release and deploying developers for repairs if it breaks.
And because this one is worth repeating we’ll say it again – find a solution with native functionality that will meet your needs. You may never get a pat on the back for this foresight, but your organization will undoubtedly be better off.Focus on data management and reporting.
The number one issue we see with nonprofit technology selection is a fixation on its visual presentation. There is no doubt that aesthetics are important: modern, visually appealing interfaces are critical components of the user experience. But if you cannot mine, model, or interpret how users are interacting with you, then you cannot grow. Your technology system should offer both user-friendly, sleek visuals, and smart and efficient data management techniques.
Your technological tool should support your understanding of your constituents and how they interact with you online, provide them with a positive user experience, and facilitate your access to, management of, and reporting of that data.Leverage social media.
It has become common to say that social media has changed the game. That it has accelerated the evolution and accessibility of the technology landscape greatly. We don’t disagree. The rate and ease at which people communicate with one another via social media is mind-boggling, and is one of the greatest examples of peer-to-peer networks at play.
Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn have made it easier than ever to connect with others, while redefining expectations for personalization, ease of use, and mobile-friendly configurations – all of which are geared toward meeting people where they are. This change in expectations and standards is why it is important for you to consider the following questions: Are your current technology systems helping you leverage social media to its fullest potential? Are they enabling your organization to reach your audience more directly and communicate with them more effectively? Are they allowing you to test, monitor, and report on the interactions taking place on each platform? If your answer to any of these questions is no – you are falling behind. Make sure your technology solution integrates easily with social media platforms, and has the functionality to capture and report on the interactions taking place.
Following these guidelines will make your technology selection easier, but unfortunately no less time-consuming. After all, locating a tool that is well-suited for your organization’s business processes, resources, and constituent needs is a project that should be undertaken with great care to save you money, time, and mental energy down the road. Approach your decision making process with this mentality and you will be able to select once, implement once, and then spend your time building your peer-to-peer program.
The technology platform you choose impacts many areas of your peer-to-peer fundraising program. Learn what the most important areas of your program are and how you can improve each one in our e-book "The Seven Success Factors". Download it today and begin evaluating and improving your peer-to-peer program!