Nonprofit Digital Outlook is rose-colored

Nonprofit Digital Outlook report 2015The good people at the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) have partnered with hjc and Care2 on a survey and subsequent analysis: The 2015 Digital Outlook Report. Downloading the full report requires giving an email address, but the report is worth the read if only for the reality check on how the surveyed charities view digital communications. The short summary is “more with less.” Just what the sector as a whole has cried out against for years to government partners and philanthropists.

The staffing and resource summaries from survey participants shows a strong concern about staffing shortages and budget constraints are the number one and number two things that are in the way of nonprofits seeking to improve how they use technology to grow mission support. And yet the survey also indicates that every single area of potential outreach is slotted for at least stability and mostly for growth. More videos! More images! More infographics!

Just who is doing all this more?

The effective nonprofit is going to do what is suggested at the end of this report – measure. Measure what tactics are going to provide the best return against specific goals (like growing recurring donors) and stop trying to do the others unless and until the resources are available for those channels. Some of this targeted development of video or infographics are going to be easily reusable across channels and there’s nothing wrong with Publishing on your Own Site and Syndicating Everywhere (POSSE). It’s easy to use tools like Hootsuite to move good information to other channels. But not all channels will be equal and not all will be effective with those videos or infographics. And that’s okay. Or at least it’s okay to recognize that the perfect is the enemy of the good and if charities try to do all the things all the time, failure is inevitable.

Strategic decisions on what should go get cut relies on understanding the ability to succeed. Facebook, for example, is continuing to make organic reach harder and harder. Smart nonprofits will of course still share things on Facebook for the audiences that can and do see their content, but fighting uphill when the rules are almost certainly going to change is not the right call for many. Syndicate to Facebook, but focus on those one or two other priorities where there is some control. Update the blog for search-optimized terms. Engage donors on LinkedIn because there’s less noise and more ability to be seen. Whatever the strategy, openly acknowledging it means doing less of something else. In this case, less is more.