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Empowering Non-profits, Enabling Change

June 05, 2018By
Four employees working at a boardroom desk

By filling gaps left by local and national governments, non-profits address an unfulfilled need in society. The degree to which they can affect change and satisfy needs is dependent on their ability to operate and mobilize effectively. That's where technology can help drive forward a successful mission. By empowering staff and volunteers with the right tools and skills, organizations are enabling their own success, whether that means they're providing better quality of service through local counseling or are more effectively empowering advocates of improved environmental legislation.

The small non-profit

For small non-profit organizations, technology empowerment is far more holistic and is aimed at providing autonomy to the Renaissance women (or men) who lead a wide range of tasks and functions in their organizations. The goal is to provide a lifelong yoga teacher or youth coordinator the skills and curiosity to become autonomous and take ownership of the technology in their organization, doing everything from fundraising to changing workflows within Salesforce. An often overlooked factor in creating enabled non-profits is to connect them with as many low cost and free resources as possible. Through communities like local non-profit user groups, they gain access to a lot of valuable (and free) information. Information and community support is useful, but non-profit leaders also need to experiment, fail and learn to develop the skills and intuition to leverage technology in the context of their organization.

“Instead of just taking note of what we needed and implementing it, [Jack, Cloud Technologist at Traction] explained what he thought would be a solution and allowed me to implement,” says Kathy Lively, Grants Manager at Captain Planet Foundation. “That’s how I learn — by doing. I now have the confidence to take on more challenging aspects of Salesforce and continue creating the perfect CRM for Captain Planet Foundation.” Captain Planet Foundation's Salesforce org isn't nearly as robust as the massive instances of Salesforce leveraged by some of the world's largest organizations, and it doesn't have to be. For non-profit leaders like Kathy, each piece of functionality implemented should address a clear need. The more functionality she can implement herself, the more time and resources she can put towards Captain Planet Foundation's core mission.

The enterprise non-profit

As non-profits increase in size and scale, the role of technology and empowerment begins to shift away from the multi-purpose individual to groups of individuals separated by role. Dedicated departments need to take ownership over technology for the benefit of their end-users and high-level strategists. Empowering end users means making their work more efficient and fulfilling, and technology needs to facilitate that, not detract from it. From a strategic perspective, technology needs to offer valuable insights into current state, forecasting, actuals and everything that's fundamental to running an organization. Enterprise non-profits are increasingly required to be adaptable at a global scale. Whether it's new tax legislation, oil spills or humanitarian disasters, enterprise non-profits need to be agile. Empowering departments with email campaigns, donor tracking, engagement plans and other functions — giving them the right tools and the right data — can be the difference between success and failure.

With larger non-profits, it's easy to lose sight of the individual, but organizational enablement is driven by providing every person on the team the tools needed to maximize their impact. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) previously leveraged a marketing platform that resulted in poor email delivery rates. It didn't matter that marketers were spending a lot of time crafting personalized, high value content for constituents because those emails weren't finding their way into the right inboxes. Now, with all of the tools that Salesforce Marketing Cloud has to offer, every marketer at WCS who spends time putting together interesting and informative emails can be sure that their efforts are having a real impact. (Learn more about their solution here).

Real world impact

The way to empower individuals within non-profits is to provide them autonomy so they can leverage their skills and passion to drive their mission forward. Ultimately, that means technology needs to serve them, not hinder them.

To learn more about what empowered individuals in enabled non-profits can achieve, join us in Vancouver on June 21 for TractionForce. We'll be starting conversations with individuals from the non-profit and for-profit world, connecting passionate individuals and sharing learnings from a diverse range of experts. Whether you're a local non-profit providing shelter to the homeless or run a large-scale operation protecting the world's oceans, we want to enable you to drive your mission forward.

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