Investing in Technology
The most recent installment of the NotleyEDU #RiseImpact Breakfast series centered around the role of technology in social impact. We welcomed Kathy Terry, Founder and CEO of inLieu along with Jonathan Lewis, Director at Thinktiv and instructor at AC4D to the stage to share their experience and expertise on the topic.
In sharing their respective journeys, our speakers shared design and audience adoption challenges similar to those encountered by nonprofits as they develop their own technologies. A nonprofit might explore a tech solution or addition for a myriad of reasons. Streamlining customer relationship management, improving donor relations by reducing donation friction, automating steps in their mission, or simply attempting to reach larger audiences are just a few common applications for implementing technology solutions.
While app design and coding might seem like a fun project, the goal of investing in technology should serve a greater purpose for your nonprofit otherwise it can be an unnecessary distraction. It’s critical to map out your intended outcomes and build a plan for success at the outset. Audience adoption and behavioral change came up multiple times by both Kathy and Jonathan in their conversation. Our speakers stressed that real impact is achieved when you take time to educate your audience and create something that is easy to adopt. When you introduce a new element into an established narrative you must carefully consider the adoption cycle of your constituents.
Another thing to remember is don’t abandon your nonprofit instincts! What can you tap into that already exists? Designing your own app or building a new website will likely take up significant time and organizational resources. You can still be scrappy and think innovatively with your existing tech and software.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to go from 0-100 in the first iteration of whatever you’re exploring. Iteration is key to any successful technology deployment. Proving the impact of your proposed tech project through an easy hacked version will build internal support amongst your team and board. Build out your vision in Excel to start testing its efficacy and continue to iterate from there.
We are excited to see the impact technology will continue to have on the nonprofit sector. Through intentional use and exploration, we should see logistical improvements that provide greater access to the organizations that choose to invest.