Integration Focus of Nonprofit Digital Strategy, Report Finds

Digital strategy is a growing priority for nonprofit organizations, but budget and capacity constraints continue to play a key role in how it is approached, a report from Care2, hjc, and NTEN finds.

Based on a survey of more than five hundred nonprofit staff, the 2015 Digital Outlook Report (10 pages, PDF) found that while digital strategy is a growing priority for nonprofits, the staffing, tools, and tactics dedicated to it vary widely by organization. For instance, more than half (56.8 percent) of survey respondents reported they had no staff dedicated to digital strategy, while two-thirds of the organizations with at least seventy-six full-time staff said they had a team dedicated to the area. Lack of staff resources (74 percent) was the most commonly cited challenge for organizations looking to develop a digital strategy, followed by budget constraints (63 percent) and lack of training (40 percent).

While budget continues to be a key factor in digital planning, the report highlights four elements unrelated to budget — "right audience, right plan, right content, and right tools" — that can improve an organization's digital interaction with prospective donors and supporters. And it offers a number of strategically focused steps to pursue — including the use of web analytics to assess successes and failures; the creation of cross-functional teams across departments to integrate channels and align messaging; the mapping of all website content to a "marketing funnel" to ensure that videos, images, and infographics serve a purpose; the tracking of interactions with potential donors from the first contact; and continuous testing.

"We know that staff time is valuable, but we've already budgeted for it,” said Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN. “Many of the recommendations highlighted in this report require staff time to strategize, make changes, and optimize online processes or experience. They do not, necessarily, require new funds or larger budgets for new tools. It's a matter of being strategic, not buying more technology."