Here Comes The Future: Are You Ready?


Ay yay yay – it’s almost the end of March! Remember that pledge you took as you cleared your desk for some holiday time off? Your cup full of eggnog, your fist raised to the sky as you said “It’s going to be different in 2014! We are going to focus on doing the right things for our online engagement programs! We’re going to plan, collaborate and use data to drive programmatic decision-making!”

How’s that working out for you so far? I feel your pain – it’s tough to remain proactive in a reactive world. No matter what is making you feel stuck, there are a few things that will help you get a bit of traction today. You might be an Accidental Techie and aren’t really sure where to start. Maybe you’re a thinker and a planner and know what to do but you need stakeholder buy-in. Perhaps you’re faced with lots of online priorities and a limited budget.

Wondering what to focus on in 2014? Here’s our take on the three ‘must do’ items for all nonprofits:

Optimize for Mobile

Yup – if you have been waiting for the right time to do some heavy lifting, 2014 is your year! Your supporters expect it, your peers are providing it and you risk losing both passive and active audiences if your site and online tools are clunky on a mobile device. Projects in this area include refreshing your website, adding mobile-friendly forms and creating mobile email templates.
Quick Tip: If your site and online forms are responsive, focus on your email messages including newsletters and action alerts.

Start Measuring the Right Data

This is where the magic happens, folks. Getting a baseline of what’s happening within your online ecosystem will help you learn a ton about your supporters, identify trends and respond to opportunities. The trick- measure the right things and interpret the data in a useful way. Nonprofits can get a lot of bang for the buck with small projects like an initial Google Analytics review, custom dashboard set up and on demand reports.
Quick Tip: Grab a piece of paper and map out where all of your organization data lives. Getting your arms around the various CRM and databases will help you use free, powerful tools like Google Analytics effectively.

Evaluate Your Online Tools

This might seem like a personal question – but how long have you been using your current fundraising software? How’s it working for you these days? Might be time to take a little look around and see what else is out there. There may be a better fit for your current needs and budget. Many organizations do a tool review every 3 years or so. Late Winter/Early Spring can be a great time to perform a tool evaluation and make some recommendations for a change (especially if your fiscal year budgeting is going on now).
Quick Tip: Think about your online goals and make a priority list – in order to meet these goals, what digital features and functionality are a must have? What is nice to have, but non-essential? What features don’t really matter? Now take a look at how your current tools stack up with your priority list. This activity is easy to do and can give you some real insight into your digital needs.

My advice? Pick one thing on this list and take small bites. Learn some things. Move that needle. Tie your online work back to your organizational goals and you can pop a champagne cork when late December rolls around!

Maureen Wallbeoff

About Maureen Wallbeoff

Maureen Wallbeoff, Vice President at Firefly Partners, began her nonprofit career with Planned Parenthood of Connecticut. Over her 16 year tenure, she rose from clinic assistant to the Director of e-Business for the organization. She possesses more than a decade of online campaign development and project management, along with a deep understanding of the strategic business needs of the nonprofit sector. Maureen works closely with nonprofits and thought leaders in today’s online engagement spaces, creating win/win solutions that work. A skilled presenter and facilitator, Maureen loves to bring people together to have authentic conversations that create consensus within an organization.

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