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Choosing The Right Nonprofit Tech Consultant With Your Board

This post was contributed by Kanopi.

Leading a nonprofit is one of the most rewarding jobs an individual can have. Raising money, helping a community in need, and engaging with your passionate supporters are valuable moments that you wouldn’t trade for anything else.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t also deal with the nitty-gritty of nonprofit management, including investing in software solutions and developing a tech strategy.

As a growing organization, ensuring your tech solutions are meeting all of your nonprofit’s and supporters’ needs is extremely important if you want to expand your fundraising efforts and meet your goals. With 2020 coming to a close and the world in the midst of a global pandemic, your website, fundraising platform, and CRM are the main conduits of digital engagement.

That’s why many leaders are turning to nonprofit technology consultants.

However, investing in a third-party resource like a tech consultant is not a decision to be taken lightly, and you will likely need to meet with your board members beforehand. As some of the key players in your nonprofit’s leadership and success, your board members are there to help you further your mission and will need to greenlight any major decisions like partnering with a consultant.

If you’re looking to expand your digital fundraising solutions and think a nonprofit tech consultant is your best bet, this is the perfect article for you. Here, we’ll be answering the following questions:

A nonprofit technology consultant is invaluable if you want to expand your digital strategy and increase your fundraising. You just have to get your board members on the same page!

1. What is a nonprofit technology consultant?

Let’s start with a basic definition. Nonprofit technology consultants are experienced individuals or groups that are well-versed in how and which software solutions best power an organization’s mission. They’ll partner with a nonprofit, take a review of their current operations, and then offer strategic technological improvements to take the organization’s efforts to the next level.

If your organization is just finding its feet with your own nonprofit tech stack and you’re unsure of whether it’s effectively meeting your needs, a dedicated consultant can provide the help you need. Depending on their specialty, these consultants may be experts in the following tools:

  • Fundraising solutions to safely and securely process online gifts
  • Event management solutions to increase registrations and provide exciting opportunities
  • Marketing and communication solutions to increase supporter recruitment and retention through email, text, or social media
  • CRM solutions to store donor profiles and collect key fundraising data
  • CMS solutions to create the best nonprofit website for your mission

If you feel like you’re short in any of the above areas, a nonprofit tech consultant can determine the best tool for you.

However, before you rush into a partnership, you’re going to need your board of directors’ support. It doesn’t matter what project or solution you want to tackle, you’ll need to secure board buy-in by explaining why exactly a nonprofit tech consultant is needed.

2. Why is a nonprofit tech consultant needed?

Leading a nonprofit is hard, even with advanced technological solutions and tools at your disposal. While you might want to ask for expert help, it can be hard to determine whether turning to a dedicated consultant is the best choice, especially regarding budget and resources.

However, sometimes the benefits and impact of the consultant’s help can greatly outweigh the initial investment.

Meet with your nonprofit board members and explain your case if you find yourself:

  1. Using an outdated tech solution. As we discussed before, the tools in your nonprofit system are crucial, especially if you want to increase your fundraising and improve donor engagements in this modern day. A nonprofit tech consultant can refer you to the tools you’ll need to align your tech stack with the goals of modern fundraising and donor engagement strategies.
  2. Falling short with your online engagement strategy. Important tasks for nonprofits involve communicating with donors, building relationships, and marketing opportunities and fundraisers. Without an effective digital strategy in place, these goals are much harder to achieve. A nonprofit tech consultant can not only help figure out the tools you’ll need, but also offer suggestions on how to use those tools to communicate and engage with supporters.
  3. Having trouble aligning your nonprofit goals and mission with your supporters’ needs. Do you find yourself planning fundraising campaigns or designing a website that doesn’t gain the traction you’d hope? This can often happen if you don’t align your own goals with your supporters’. A nonprofit tech consultant will do heavy research into your organization to ensure that they not only are familiar with your mission but also with your audience. Then, they can propose solutions to more effectively reach those supporters and engage with them in a way that furthers your goals.
  4. Having a website that doesn’t result in quality leads or conversions. Your website is one of the most important online tools your nonprofit can have. It’s where prospects learn about your work and where supporters give back. A nonprofit tech consultant can help leaders like you with CMS selection, website design, development, and even ongoing support.
  5. Not being able to complete tasks on time with the staff you have. If your to-do list never seems to get done, this could be a sign that you simply don’t have enough team members. A nonprofit tech consultant can offer extra hands to provide any needed help when it comes to your tech needs.

If you are in any of the above situations, sometimes not talking with an expert can cause further problems for your organization. Relying on an outdated tech solution or a malfunctioning website can do a lot of harm to your organization, especially as time goes on. Your board members have oversight into the operations of your entire nonprofit and are tasked with looking to the future, so they likely already know this.

Once your board members back your decision to partner with a nonprofit tech consultant, it’s time to choose the best one.

3. How can you choose a nonprofit tech consultant with your board members?

This Kanopi guide to hiring a nonprofit tech consultant describes this process well, pulling from their own expertise as a digital web strategy, design, development, and support agency. Taking insight from their article, here are the common steps you’ll likely take with your board members:

  1. Review your nonprofit’s needs. What are the areas in your tech stack and strategy where you need the most help? Prioritize your immediate needs first, but don’t forget about your long-term goals as well.
  2. Meet with your nonprofit’s board and discuss guidelines. As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial that your nonprofit board of directors agree with partnering with outside help and what that help is exactly for. You don’t want to run into any pushback or confusion of any form in the future. You should also take this time to discuss any guidelines for the consultant partnership, including a budget, a target start date for the consulting service, and a general timeframe for the partnership. However, don’t feel trapped within these timeframes, it’s okay to be flexible as this process goes on.
  3. Compile a list of potential consultants. To start your research, consider recommendations from other nonprofit leaders or refer to lists of top nonprofit tech consultants. Make sure that no matter what, the tech consultant’s specialties align with your needs.
  4. Work with board members to put together a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a document describing your nonprofit’s exact needs, mission, goals, and current tech situation. This will be handed to the consultant you’re considering working with to inform them that you want to request a proposal and give them the proper context. Proposals created by the consultant to describe their approach to your project and can help you determine which consultant is right for your organization.
  5. Reach out to top candidates approved by board members. Meet with your board members and have them rank their favorite consultants. Compare these rankings to see who the top choices are, and then promptly reach out to them with your RFP.
  6. Ask for references and follow up. The nonprofit consultant you partner with will be an ongoing part of your team. Make sure that this is someone you can definitely work effectively with by reviewing references. Follow up with each of the proposals you’ve received and see which one lines up best with the plan and guidelines set by you and your board.

If you’ve never worked with a consultant before, it can be tough navigating this new relationship and setting realistic expectations for what can be accomplished and done together. That’s why it’s critical that you and your board members are on the same page when it comes to figuring out your nonprofit’s needs and choosing the right consultant.

Conclusion

You and your nonprofit’s board of directors are juggling many tasks. From setting goals and objectives for your organization to planning your annual budget, it’s crucial that your board is always on the same page for any major nonprofit decisions.

Make sure that you understand exactly what a nonprofit tech consultant is and how they can benefit your organization before proposing this investment to your board. Good luck!


Anne Stefanyk from Kanopi wrote this quick guide to choosing the right nonprofit tech consultant with your board. Author: Anne Stefanyk

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.

https://twitter.com/Anne_Kanopi
https://www.drupal.org/u/annabella
https://www.linkedin.com/in/annestefanyk/

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