With a multitude of online platforms to monitor, along with a variety of constituents to engage, it’s enough to make even the most dynamic nonprofit leader feel withdrawn. This begs the question: “In a time when we are all more “connected” than ever, how can we feel so disconnected?”
As a leader within your nonprofit organization, you have the unique ability to bridge the gaps of disconnection and forge bonds both within and outside your organization’s walls.
Here are five tips for nonprofit leaders to develop interconnected organizations in the all-digital world:
1. Stick with your team’s communication tools and integrate them where possible.
If in 2020, your team hastily introduced a variety of tools for chat or video conferencing, decide upon your designated platforms. By introducing new tools or switching platforms, widespread user adoption struggles, and teams suffer from technology whiplash. Once the use is widespread, integrate these tools with other platforms you already use.
For example, Microsoft Teams integrates with your Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM to easily facilitate collaboration among your departments, access dashboards in real-time, and view financial summaries of your donors. Integrations such as these increase internal efficiencies and eliminate the need to access a separate instance of your CRM for basic task completion.
2. Merge your online with your offline presence and encourage your teams to bring their full selves to work.
We’ve all seen video clips of teachers seeking to spur their students' interest during online instruction. By wearing costumes or building planetarium scenes, they find unique ways to keep their students engaged. We’re not suggesting you host your next Teams call wearing last year’s Halloween costume, but we do recommend amplifying your personality online. If you’re a leader who uses humor to lighten tense or challenging situations, be sure to channel this quality online. The more flair you bring to your online presence, the more easily you’ll build meaningful relationships with your teams, donors, and other constituents. Also, don’t forget that you serve as an example for the rest of your team. As you showcase your authentic self online, your teams will be inspired to do the same.
3. Promote a culture of learning and innovation.
A partial or all-digital workforce can result in information and skill silos. The off-the-cuff conversations that inspire and facilitate idea generation within the office place don’t easily translate online. As nonprofit leaders, it’s important to encourage learning on-the-job so as to spark those “aha” moments among your staff. Promote professional development via webinars, online courses, or conferences.
In addition, don’t gloss over the subject matter expertise of your staff. Say, for example, your development team seeks to reinvigorate lapsed donors, offer informal lunch and learns with your IT or CRM team to offer best practices on data segmentation techniques.
4. Share your CRM data internally.
Data empowers your staff to take control of their unique role and contribution toward your organization’s mission. With dashboards and data visualizations through tools such as Power BI, you facilitate cross-departmental collaboration, strategic thinking, and contemplation. These tools allow your teams to bring your CRM data to life so as to draw more informed conclusions about your donors’ interests and giving preferences. Utilizing one common knowledge base inspires action toward common goals and fuels interconnectivity both within and outside your organization.
5. Reexamine your organization’s purpose.
Now is the perfect time to revisit your organization’s purpose and mission. By reminding yourself and your team of your common goal to alleviate inequalities or promote justice, you return to the building blocks of your organization. As you recommit yourself and your team to your mission, you remember your “why.” This common mission provides direction and stability while it grounds your team in the work that matters most.
By offering consistency of communication tools, emphasizing authenticity online, and facilitating idea-sharing with common data, you provide structure and a sense of purpose for your teams. These efforts will fuel connectivity, reinvigorate your teams, and inspire your work now when it’s needed most.