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Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation series

June 24, 2020
Man pointed at board with a blue graph projected on

Watch our six-part free webinar series focused on nonprofit digital transformation with Traction on Demand and

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

To help organizations make the shift to a digital-first approach, and Traction on Demand joined forces for a six-part webinar series bringing together the brightest thought leaders from our organizations. Aspects of digital transformation for nonprofits, including user adoption, business alignment, technology implementations, and change management were all covered during these interactive sessions.

Looking for the Cliffs/Coles Notes version? We’ve summarized our key learnings from each session below, otherwise download all six recordings here.

Top lessons from the series:

  • Digital transformation is a process, the goal is to become a “Digital First Nonprofit”.
  • Transformation is as much about people and process as it is about technology.
  • Culture change is critical, it must be an organizational effort to eliminate silos.
  • Constituent-centricity is the north star of any successful transformation.
  • Iterative, data-driven approaches are critical. Never forget: crawl, walk, run.
  • The COVID crisis has created an opportunity and impetus for change.

Session one: nonprofit industry trends: before and during a global health crisis

Sharing our latest insights on the impact of COVID-19 in the nonprofit community and how these trends in the industry are more prevalent than ever.

Increasingly, customers expect consistent, targeted experiences throughout the arc of their relationship across all channels

Key learnings:

David Ragones, described three distinct phases nonprofit organizations are moving through due to COVID-19 pandemic;

  • Stabilize
  • Normalize
  • Accelerate

These phases are experienced differently by each organization, some move through quickly and some continue to stabilize. In-depth stories and blog posts can be found here.

Panelists discussed examples of quick change and innovation, Michelle Malpassreferenced the Take a Hike Foundation and shared the best way forward was to determine what was mission critical and put the focus on those areas first.

David discussed The Trevor Project’s quick pivot during the crisis to build a remote hotline offering, TrevorLifeline, which offers confidential support to prevent suicide among the vulnerable LGBTQ youth population. This project was completed in under two weeks, read more about this project here.

Top trends in the industry:

  • Digital Transformation: Best experience is expected experience, it’s all about a constituent-centric approach.
  • Stewardship & Engagement: Evolution from transactional to relationship-based fundraising.
  • Changing Demographics: Up to $68T will be passed down from boomers to millennials and younger generations in the next 30 years.
  • Digital First: Online fundraising opportunities still exist and new tools should be explored such as DIY fundraising, gamification, SMS and user-generated content.
  • Data & Security: New opportunities to improve how we store, manage and leverage data - especially now with remote workforce.

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

Session two: considering people and process alongside technology

Learn how your approach to people, process and technology can make or break your transformation project and the practical steps you can take to achieve organizational alignment that will guarantee success.

"Coming out of this crisis while innovating sounds like an excellent idea; knowing where to begin is another story."

Key learnings:

Participants were challenged to view digital transformation as not just about the technology but rather about reimagining their organization. Constituents expect a seamless, personalized experience that delights. Aaren Terrett urged participants to consider the experience offered by their organization and take the time to explore and analyze this experience from a constituent’s point of view.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t change it or understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” James Harrington’s Improvement Process

What goes into your constituent experience? To start, the overarching areas to consider are People, Process and Technology.

  • People: Identify champions, invest in training and engage constituents early and often.
  • Process: Modernize processes strategically, link value to changes, optimize processes and focus on experience design.
  • Technology: Keep it simple, consider an MVP approach and balance tech debt against full vision.

Kelly Hardebeck discussed viewing the process in three phases: crawl, walk, and run. She encouraged starting with a short term vision, in their case, her team created a COVID-19 specific V2MOM (Vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures) to ensure alignment.

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

Session three: our new virtual world: digital-first constituent engagement

With a thoughtful, constituent-centric digital strategy, marketers can better engage and build deeper relationships with their community.

  • Justin Raisor, Field Account Executive, Marketing Cloud at
  • Jane Gibson, Senior Director, Marketing Automation at Traction on Demand

"Building an engagement strategy that fosters brand development and constituent stewardship."

Key learnings:

Participants learned that personalization of the constituent lifecycle is critically important in the digital engagement process. It’s important to approach this process with a crawl, walk, run and “ride” outlook.

Top industry trends:

  • Nonprofit text messaging audiences grew by 26% in 2019, at a time when Facebook audiences grew by just 4% and email list sizes declined by 2%
  • Half of organizations in the US (52%) and even fewer in the UK (41%) consider their ability to test/measure marketing campaigns very effective (Nonprofit-Marketer, 2019)
  • 48% of nonprofits said they exceeded their goals when fundraising and marketing were fully aligned (Nonprofit Trends Report, 2nd edition, 2019)
  • Nonprofit Facebook posts reached fewer users relative to their audience size: An average post reached 9,100 users for every 100,000 followers a nonprofit had, a 16% decline from the prior year (M+R Benchmarks, 2020)
  • 83% agree that we rely heavily on batch and blast communications, with 70% saying they don’t differentiate

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

Session four: Fundraising transformation through aligned strategies and systems

Examining the donor relationship cycle — Identification, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship — exploring the ways modern technology can best inform and support strategies and processes at each phase.

  • Dustin Pitts, Manager, Solution Engineering at
  • Watt Hamlett, Principal and Founder of Watt Hamlett Consulting

"COVID-19 has amplified the absolute need for our systems to be radically reimagined."

Key learnings:

Participants learned the strategies and heard examples around how technology can enable and enhance fundraising initiatives at each phase of the donor relationship cycle — Identification, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship.

Ways technology enables fundraising:

  • Increases productivity and efficiency
  • Supports data-driven insights, decision making and engagement
  • Enables greater reach and scale

The following image shows a framework as applied to donor lifecycle phases. It outlines brief thoughts about how technology and processes align to each area. This framework could also be applied to other aspects of fundraising or operations.

To help the nonprofit sector navigate through the COVID-19 epidemic and the challenges of systemic racism and on to the next normal, Watt Hamlett Consulting has compiled online resources for leaders in the sector. Read more here.

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

Session Five: constituent-centricity: no more buzz, let’s get real

Helping nonprofit leadership realign their operations with the needs and wants of their constituents by keeping the individual at the center of everything you do.

"Giving people what they want, when they want it makes sense in theory. In reality, it’s a lot easier said than done."

Key learnings:

Attendees learned the true meaning of constituent-centricity: “The first tenet of customer-centric organizations is to do business the way the customer wants to do business” from Amy Kates & Jay Galbraith, Designing your Organization.

Understanding motivation is the key to constituent-centricity. For motivation, focus on three things:

  • Develop constituent segmentation
  • Identify the value exchange
  • Align operations

To do this, we must align the relationship based on motivations rather than transactions. This means no longer thinking of our constituents based on their point of entry and pigeonholing them as advocates, donors, members, volunteers, etc. Instead, focus on motivation-based segmentation which allows for relationship building with the whole organization.Three recommendations:

  • Create informal teams around primary segments
  • Map the constituent experience to satisfy needs over time
  • Align operations around the constituent experience

Helpful resources:

Download Webinar: Nonprofit Digital Transformation here

Session six: journey towards nonprofit digital transformation

This final session ties all of the concepts we’ve exhibited together to make lasting organizational changes. Learn more on how to approach common opportunities, pitfalls and barriers to change; how organizational leaders can (and should) continue pursuing digital maturity amidst the new world of COVID-19 and a precarious economy; and discover tools to create your digital transformation roadmap.

  • Jessica Hood, VP Global Innovation and Digital Transformation at
  • Misty McLaughlin, Principal & Founder of Cause Craft Consulting

Key learnings:

Attendees learned the importance of becoming a “Digital First Nonprofit”. For an organization this means:

  • Leveraging fast, responsive, pervasive communication methods
  • Understanding your audience and creating automated, personalized experiences
  • Having the discipline of measurement, learning, and optimization
  • Constantly prioritizing efforts into the opportunities with the greatest potential impact
  • Embracing experimentation and risk

Digital First is NOT:

  • Only about technology
  • Just for people on digital or IT teams
  • Channel-specific
  • Only concerned with web, social, or email
  • Anti-print
  • The end of direct mail

The path forward during this crisis is centered on Stabilize, Reopen and Evolve. It’s important for organizations to first mitigate short-term risks and stabilize operations before assessing when and how to return to the office and accelerating digital transformation.

Helpful statistics:

  • 73% of consumers expect organizations to understand their needs and expectations
  • 65% of consumers have stopped engaging with brands that did something distrustful
  • Fundraisers and marketers have a new mandate:
    • Build trust: 92% of consumers will trust organizations with their data when they have control
    • Connect data: 45% of marketing leaders own experience
    • Transform Engagement: 73% of consumers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other organizations
    • Take a New Approach: 74% of young people wish they could do more for causes they care aboutbut many say they don’t know how to get started

Looking for the recordings?

Watch our six-part free webinar series focused on nonprofit digital transformation with Traction on Demand and


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