Back to blog

Setting a Budget for Your Nonprofit’s Digital Makeover

How to spend less on your digital transformation at just the right time for bigger returns.

Welcome to the digital-first world. You’ve personally been living in it for years, and now it’s time to punch through the barrier-to-entry for your nonprofit and welcome growth and greater impact for your mission.

Before I get into a few of the presumed barriers often associated with any company’s (for-profit or nonprofit) digital transformation, let me just say, I get it.

I’ve been in your shoes, in the trenches, helping to launch a digital transformation for a nonprofit that up until then ‘made it work’ without the best, or any, systems in-place to improve workflow and donor relationships.

I’ve also seen too many nonprofits get burned, mixing the wrong ingredients into the recipe at the wrong time only to have to start from scratch.

It’s my goal to help you feel more confident approaching this daunting, next step for your organization because, and hear me out, it should be exciting!

Introducing a DX to Your Nonprofit

A digital transformation, “DX” (or the less-common “DT”) for short, basically means implementing the right technology to streamline cross-functional work, automate tasks, capture and measure data, and build better relationships with your constituents. As you’re reading this, I’d bet you already have a good understanding of how a DX could help your organization.

But how do you know it’s the right time to kick off your DX? Identifying how and where your team is struggling to get over a plateau or keep up with business growth is one good indicator. Ask yourself, could implementing a new system alleviate wasted manual processes?

The answer is (not a shocker), yes. The outcome is a more productive team that’s able to focus business efforts elsewhere, bring in more donors, and help your cause make a bigger impact.

My team at CauseMic had the opportunity to help our partners at the Community Resource Center of Teton Valley (CRCTV) launch their digital transformation, increasing their annual revenue 235%.

CRCTV saw a 400% surge in cases brought on by the pandemic and their intake capacity quickly flattened. By integrating a nonprofit CRM system with SalesForce Form Assembly—their fundraising platform—they optimized the intake process, boosted email communications output to donors, and were able to meet the urgent need.

I encourage you to read the full case study to learn how efficient fundraising doubled their revenue and subsidized their DX costs.

It’s a Matter of When Not If

Transforming your systems and processes to drive your mission into a digital-first model is a must. The question is, when?

The answer: in steady stages.

Your digital transformation won’t be easy. You won’t be able to plan your every move to ultimately arrive at digital maturity. It’s a game of chess—time is a factor along with a sound strategy that’s forward looking and agile to adapt to unforeseen blockers.

Hitting snags during your DX is totally normal, don’t worry. Your team is undergoing a culture change as much as a systems change.

Planning in stages rather than for the grand finale before you begin is the faster route. In a previous post in my Digital Transformation Series, I explain why the right tool while your organization’s growing is a Honda and not a Ferrari.

For starters, it’s cheaper.

Budgeting for Your Own DX

As I’m suggesting a digital transformation strategy done incrementally, so too am I suggesting you think about budgeting for your DX in increments. Listen, even when select technology products are offered to nonprofits at a discount it’s still going to cost you.

By breaking it down in stages, it’s an easier bill to fork over and double your ROI.

Aiming for perfection immediately can drown your team without matching your investment. Aiming for progress will lead to success. One of the CauseMic Crew’s cultural principles is “success is not final,” because we’re always asking, what comes next?

What you’ll need to budget for your nonprofit’s DX depends on a handful of variables.

Consider your starting point. Does your team already have systems in place and simply in need of upgrades and further integrations? Or are you stuck under an endless pile of manual-entry spreadsheets?

Consider your immediate goals. Improving the look and frequency of your donor communications with new insights to grow your donor base and build better relationships with your current donors will have a different price tag than a partially automated, integrated system for tracking and sharing data for cross-team functions.

In a digital-first world, every single role relies on technology.

Ultimately, your digital transformation will reach all employees and teams in different ways. Fleeting are the days of singular tech departments. In a digital-first world, every single role relies on technology.

Even so, you don’t need to budget for your digital swan song. And you shouldn’t.

Remember, progress equals success.

Strategic Fundraising Informed by Data

Reaching your full fundraising potential will require inspiring stories and content shared across multiple channels to boost engagement and drive donations. (I have a previous post on the importance of multi-channel storytelling to avoid leaving thousands on the table if you’re interested in a deeper dive.)

We all want to be a part of a data-driven team, and there’s a reason we do. Strategy based on data is the only way to know if what you’re doing is working.  

Implementing systems that allow you to track your segmented-audiences’ engagement in real time can tell you which type of content is building a connection to your organization and moving them to donate.

Committing to a DX is merely a matter of when, and if strategic, data-driven fundraising is among your goals (and it should be) the best time to consider introducing new technology into your team’s workflow might be leading up to a large campaign, such as a year-end push. It sounds counterintuitive, but it enables you to test systems at pivotal moments, gather real insights, and identify needs to plot the next phase of your digital makeover.

Hopefully, I’ve been able to provide you with a better understanding of a nonprofit DX as a matter of necessity for long-term growth and to give your donors the expected digital experience.

The CauseMic Crew and I are ready to share a personalized DX model balanced with your current and desired rate of scale.

Schedule a free one-on-one conversation as the first step in digitally transforming your nonprofit and creating exponential impact for your mission.

Yes, let's chat.