Choosing the Right Tech Partner and Team for Fundraising Success

In an increasingly digital world, it’s only natural that technology has also transformed countless aspects of charity fundraising. What was previously limited to more manual processes, like in-person events, door-to-door fundraising, or a letter in the mail with a return slip enclosed, is so much more today. The whole sector has undergone a transformative shift with modern technology.

As we navigate the ever-increasingly digital-first world we operate in, our processes must react fast and constantly evolve, and our tech-stack and people need to be agile enough to support this.

In this article, we share insights from a white paper ‘The Importance of Charity Fundraising Technology’ to explore the significance of your technology vendor and internal team in digital transformation success. The white paper was written by Dan Keyworth, Vice-President of Customer Success Modernisation and Managing Director of International Markets and Global Foundations at Blackbaud, who has years of experience in the charity and fundraising technology space.

The Importance of Selecting the Right Vendor

It’s evident that the nonprofit sector evolves constantly, and charities must harness these digital opportunities to not fall behind. However, simply introducing technology isn’t enough. To supercharge opportunities, charities must have a clear annual plan for continuous improvement, strong vendor relationships and a team with an open mind.

To do so, your charity needs to invest in vendors and solutions that bring expertise to donor management and to consumer and donor engagement. They should be motivated to drive your long-term success, with fundraising as a priority. By investing in partners that can develop, implement, support, and deliver value, and bring annual innovation, you lower the expectation and cost upon your team to have niche skills or become in-house software developers.

  • Assess how much your supplier spends on annual product development specifically focused on fundraising.
  • Determine whether they will regularly spend time with you to discuss how best to adopt these innovations they are planning.
  • Assess each supplier’s existing fundraising user/customer community to ensure you have an extra avenue to help you succeed or ensure business continuity following staff turnover.
  • Determine if the business model puts focus on both product and people to ensure customer outcomes are your supplier’s priority—with a business and financial strategy that drives your value towards those outcomes.
  • Ask if success principles are embedded from the initial onboarding, then accelerating the success planning post go-live to focus on achieving your business outcomes through a continuous success plan.

The most successful charities are typically those where Fundraising and IT teams work as strong partners, and embrace integrating key suppliers into the process. While fundraising and IT teams do incredible work, it doesn’t mean that your internal staff can or should be experts in everything to enable best-in-class fundraising through technology.

Instead, material value should come from suppliers dedicated to growing your income and social impact. Having that same supplier relationship across all stages of the technology lifecycle ensures access to external expertise on an ongoing basis. You want interoperability, yes, but with a single point of accountability.

As such, ultimately, leverage your supplier as a partner. Lean into relationships with vendors that invest to help you succeed. The process in leveraging fundraising technology is all about partnership as collaboration offers a compelling pathway to greater impact. It can help you achieve the combined goals of your charity, with a deep understanding of the pivotal role of fundraising and supporter engagement and what is needed to boost positive return on investment.

Building Your Team

While your vendor and the technology solution play a key role, so does your internal team. Embarking on a digital transformation journey becomes difficult with a reluctant team set on their ways.

When building your team, invest in people who embrace change, have an innovative mindset, and can adapt their ways of working to accommodate digital ways of working.

Look out for individuals who encompass:

1. Change Mindset

The world has changed multiple times over the last five years, and that will continue. Do you have a team that constantly wants to innovate, develop, and improve?

You should invest in people who embrace continuous change mindset and feel positive about change rather than resisting it. These individuals should be able to bridge the vision and strategy to execution in order to ensure your charity is not only thinking big but can drive results and scale upwards quickly.

2. Adaptability and Agility

COVID-19 changed the way society interacts—consumers expect digital-first, and charity leaders are using this as an opportunity to drive change in their nonprofits. The digital transformation is continuous and here to stay.

As your technology and data are one of your key enablers in this ever-changing world, your charity must prepare and be ready for that continuous change management, with solutions for fundraising that will keep pace with an ever-changing world. This makes it essential to ensure your team is all about adaptability, scalability, and agility.

3. Relationship Building

As digital-first experiences and new innovations continue to grow in importance, old ways of working and communicating are no longer effective. It’s likely that you will need to tweak your brand and messaging to empower innovation and activism across your supporter community.

Towards this, there is value in recruiting and retaining those who can drive collaboration, break down silos, and win ‘hearts and minds’ across and beyond your charity. Nonprofits can achieve much more when they build bridges across departments, and with suppliers, to partner together closely, acknowledging that the benefits of sharing data and insights—whilst advancing their core business priorities—far outweigh the costs.

Enhancing Engagement with Your Staff

Charity-wide engagement is essential to ensure stakeholders are keen and ready to adapt to any internal changes.

In fact, introducing technology and establishing a single source of truth must not be at the expense of effective fundraising—or the team culture. Insight and intelligence are critical, both embedded within the fundraising system and connected to your wider charity ecosystem. The former is part of that fundraising-focused investment, to make sure the insights are grounded in what your donors have, need, and want; whilst the latter can be best facilitated through an integrated ecosystem of (a small and sustainable number of) key market leading solutions.

As modern technology enables the right information to be seamlessly shared between solutions, your team is empowered to leverage integrated tools, advanced data management, sophisticated philanthropic revenue management, and more. As a result, mission delivery becomes easier and more accessible than before, helping employees harness their fullest potential.

This digital adaptation has changed how charities operate, but the other major shift to prepare for is around purpose. The Technology & Services Industry Association (TSIA) notes that employees, especially the next generation of tech employees, gravitate to mission, opening new partnership possibilities with corporations who are seeking to complement profit with purpose.

Employees of both for-profits and nonprofits are looking for companies that can articulate a meaningful mission. This, of course, has always been true of charities, but the growing focus of individuals on their own social impact is only going to increase over the next 3-5 years. It will be essential for all charities to be able to tell the story to their employees and beneficiaries of the social impact they have towards building a better world. If you don’t, competitors for your charity’s talent will.

Global Technology Trends Drive Impact

Our ability to have social impact on the world has never been so great—nor so important. By embracing fundraising technology and current innovations, like AI, charities are in the best position to support their fundraising strategies and drive impact.

We must all be champions and ambassadors to make this happen. When each member of the team understands the importance of donor management and consumer and donor engagement focus, your charity can inspire, empower, and rally supporters around the world. These are, or should be, non-negotiable priorities for every charity, with technology and data as key enablers of that vision.

Great insights come from outside your charity too. If we can truly connect interrelated missions of multiple charities with education institutions, other nonprofits and corporations, and with individuals that want to drive more social good—by matching all funders and fundees together more smartly and efficiently, and telling an amplified story of combined social impact— then we can aspire to grow philanthropy as an overall percentage of Gross Domestic Product, ultimately advancing charities’ missions.

Learn more about the importance of charity fundraising technology with Dan Keyworth’s white paper:

Based in Europe? Get your copy here.Based in Canada? Get your copy here.Based in Australia/New Zealand? Get your copy here.