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Donor experience transformation is about making fundamental changes in how business is conducted at our nonprofit in order to help cope with a shift in environment. The shift has occurred for constituents and donors. The shift is becoming a digital nonprofit to have amazing experiences for our donors. The approach should be about transformation of the entire donor experience.

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

What is happening in many cases is that we are adding racing stripes to a 20 year old Chevy and think we now have a race car. We don’t have a racecar. We still have a 20 year old Chevy that looks fast but isn’t.

The first thing is to recognize is that there is a burning platform. This is a decision by the CEO and the C-Suite that the nonprofit must be different to survive. Without that fundamental vision at the highest level, complete donor experience transformation can’t occur. Incremental gains can be made by others but true transformation has to be owned by the most senior of senior management.

Your business is likely to face an extinction event in the next 10 years. And while you may see it coming, you may not have enough time to save your nonprofit.” ~~Nigel Fenwick, “The Future of Business is Digital”

And here is more from a recent study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting.

A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting finds that companies now face a digital imperative: adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence. While there is consensus on the importance of adopting digital technology, most employees find the process complex and slow. Many say their leaders lack urgency and fail to share a vision for how technology can change the business. Companies that succeed tend to have leaders who share their vision and define a road map, create cross-organizational authority for adoption and reward employees for working towards it.”  ~~ Michael Fitzgerald, Nina Kruschwitz, Didier Bonnet and Michael Welch

What we need to do is to envision the digital future of our nonprofit. Without a compelling vision of where you are going and why it is imperative, we will probably be painting race stripes on a 20 year old Chevy. What assets will be valuable in a digitally-transformed nonprofit? How can we transform the donor experience? What about improving internal operations to support the donor experience? How good is our nonprofit model? How can local chapters work differently – and work together differently – in a more connected way?

Look at the media industry. It has been completely transformed by digital technology. It is now happening, at various speeds, to the rest of our commercial, nonprofit and government world. Everyone is experimenting. Everyone is tinkering. Some are putting their toes in the water. A few have jumped in and find they aren’t drowning. They are reaping huge results.

A central question to answer as a digital executive is “Is my nonprofit ready to be disrupted?”

Critical to this question is the premise that we are going to be disrupted fairly radically if you don’t get ready. Do you personally believe a “radical change” is happening with donors now?  Of course, if you don’t believe that, no need to ask the question.

If you do believe it could happen, it is well worth getting away from the office to consider what to do very soon to avert it. Taking the time to have a serious answer might make all the difference in success or failure three years from now.

The next question is this. If you or your nonprofit isn’t ready, what should you do about it? It is important to think through what you personally should do as opposed to what “the nonprofit” should do. You can control your plan. You can only influence the corporate approach.

The answer will set your agenda for the next six months.

Let the transformation begin.

A radical change is happening. B2B and B2C are being overtaken by P2P—people to people. Companies that ignore it are taking a big risk.” Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman of Constellation Research

via Annual Report 2013 | Capgemini Worldwide.

Transformation is occurring at many nonprofits. Donor will continue to change in embracing digital connections. It can’t be escaped. It is about how people collaborate and work. It is about the way nonprofit processes are executed. It is most certainly about how we understand our donors and obsess about the experience they are having with us. It is about how we use digital technology to radically shift how we provide amazing experiences for our donors. It is radical and it is now.

Donors are in charge. That is a profound shift. At our core, do we get that shift? There is a convergence of donors being in control and our designing experiences that easily help them reach their goals. What if we don’t? They will let everyone know about it and go somewhere else. It is that simple. Do you see it coming?

As senior managers, we alone possess the skills and resources to make it happen. We can decide to transform and survive or we cannot. No one else can make that happen. It is up to us to create the vision.

It is up to us decide who is “on the bus” and who is not. Here is the tough thing. Not all of our people and senior management gets “it”. To assume otherwise will hinder us. We need to decide who is on board and who is not. We need to get those who are not on board off the bus, as gently as we can, but as soon as possible. Delay will only hinder us and we know it.

Our desire to strive to digital maturity and make it happen is something that really matters. We need to make sure there are targets for progress, that they are well known and that they are met. That cannot be delegated.

Communicating the vision can’t be delegated either. It is up to us to take a stand. It is up to us to communicate it. The message needs to get through and no one else can do it. Develop a serious communication plan. Make sure that it is followed.

We have to decide that monitoring engagement with the vision is measured. If we don’t decide that, who else will?  We have to decide to iterate the vision, goals and strategies. We have the starting point but others will add and enhance what we start with. Setting up an iterative process gains commitment and value. Just remember to not let people wander off into unfertile territory.

Having started with a great vision, goals and strategies, we have to make investment decisions. Again, no one else can do that for us. We have to decide what the priorities are and fund them. Only executives can cut across silos and departments to integrate the work. We have to coordinate digital initiatives that radically transform traditional operational initiatives. The keepers of the silos will not think that way and it is unreasonable to think they will. Executives have to make and force some of the funding in spite of what others may think.

We will have to decide what the KPI’s and metrics need to be. Others can inform that but we must agree and sometimes disagree with what the levers are to get us to make progress on our goals and strategies. Executives have to decide what the reasonable timeframes are to make progress. Shorter timeframes are better. That will help our people focus. We need to decide what processes we will use to make necessary adjustments. Adjustments will need to be made. Assuming otherwise has us blindly executing initiatives that get off track and don’t improve the donor experience.

All of this needs to start with the C-Suite. Others will support the effort but without the CEO vision and commitment, donor experience transformation will not occur. It will be more of the “flavor of the month” approach that employees and donors are very tired of.

Finally, there are real constraints here but they are not as dire as you may believe. Jeff Bezos has funded Amazon but never allowing the corporation to “take a profit”. It is a bold strategy. It pays off.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. What assets will be valuable in a digitally-transformed nonprofit focused on the donor? Eliminate those that are marginal.
  2. How can we transform donor experience? Internal operations? Our nonprofit model? Executives have to decide the transformation road map.
  3. How can local chapters work differently – and work together differently – in a more connected way? We have to be serious about eliminating as many silos as we can.