Incubate New Ideas

The nonprofit sector is just as competitive as the for-profit sector. Both sectors compete for clients and resources. In many cases, entities must compete for some resources across sector boundaries. For instance, talent, money, and clients often move freely from one sector to another.

Donors have limited resources and can freely allocate their resources in a variety of different ways (consumer goods and services, investments, charitable gifts, etc.). Donors/consumers often make emotional decisions and provide rational explanations for their decisions. Therefore, perception is often one of the elements in the decision-making process.

Appearing to be comfortable with new technology is important when competing for donors. When many of a donor’s for-profit providers have demonstrated expertise with the latest technology, it is easy for the donor to think that your nonprofit should be equally expert. The lack of expertise can create a negative perception of your nonprofit and its mission.

Your nonprofit can use its mastery of technology to increase donor generosity and loyalty. It is easy to confuse a donor’s willingness to give with a donor’s willingness to be generous and loyal. Donors are willing to make token gifts when the cause, mission, and clients occupy a special place in the donors’ hearts. The token gifts provide donors with continued contact while they wait for something to change. Sometimes the demonstrated mastery of a technology is the desired change. The mastery of the technology may be read as an indication that the nonprofit has become relevant, is competitive enough to be sustainable, will be more effective, or has the tools needed to provide a greater breadth or depth of service to those in need.

The competitiveness of the job market continues to increase. The demand for individuals with a solid understanding of various technologies will probably grow. Those who have mastered a technology are in greater demand. The competent and the masters are unlikely to chose to work for an organization that is perceived to be behind the curve. They are likely to see accepting a job as taking a step back in their career. It is their drive to be relevant, their ambition, and their knowledge that make them valuable to any organization and especially important to growing nonprofits who are striving for excellence and committed to increasing their sustainability.

Everyone knows that technology is an important tool. Very few nonprofits use technology to create a competitive advantage. Before a tool can become a competitive advantage, it must be relevant to an area where the nonprofit needs to compete. Mastering an accounting system will raise the productivity of several departments within a nonprofit. However, total mastery of accounting and new accounting strategies are unlikely to create a competitive advantage for most non-financial nonprofits.

Next Step:

Determine which areas in your business model need a competitive advantage

Determine what existing technology will provide a competitive advantage

Commit to mastering the selected technologies sufficiently to implement new uses for the technology

After taking the preceding three steps you will have a competitive technology strategy. Making sure your strategy is mission centric will ensure that it maximizes its value to your clients and increases the relevance of your mission. Implementing your strategy will increase your nonprofit’s sustainability.

When early adopters of mission-centric technology are successful, they develop a significant competitive advantage. Their advantage over your nonprofit is limited to the time it takes for your staff to implement a new idea.

You and your staff have the creativity and skills necessary to be a technology leader in your community and enjoy the competitive advantage leadership provides.

Take It Further:

Examine select areas of your business model and determine what, beyond technology, is needed for a competitive advantages

Read about anticipating, preparing for, predicting, and involving clients in new technology


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