Ask the Experts: What are the Technology Needs of Nonprofits?

November 2, 2015 Nicole Klemp

technology needs of nonprofits

Nonprofits are in a unique situation when it comes to IT strategy. Under constant pressure to lower operating costs, nonprofits need to run lean operations, while still building constituent loyalty and deepening relationships. In today’s constantly shifting, competitive landscape, in which new ways of supporting and communicating with nonprofits crop up nearly every day, keeping up with constituent expectations is more difficult — and more crucial — than ever.

We’ve enlisted 2 of our Appirio nonprofit experts to weigh in on the unique issues nonprofit organizations face, and the ways they can use technology to streamline processes and create exceptional constituent experiences.

Meet our experts:

MarkKMark Koenig is Client Partner and Nonprofit Industry Lead at Appirio, and has been a business and technology strategy consultant for over 20 years. He specializes in helping customers maximize opportunities afforded by cloud, mobile, and social technologies to power their organization, become more agile, and transform their relationships with stakeholders.

GeneZGene Zeyger is an Account Executive at Appirio who specializes in helping organizations and enterprises accelerate their adoption of the cloud with solutions using


What are some of the common issues nonprofits face when looking to update their systems?

Gene Zeyger: The first thing I would mention is market dynamics. Nonprofits are facing more and more competition for donor mindshare, while individuals and corporations have endless choices as to where to give. Because of this, the expectations that messages should be personalized and automated are heightened. Individual connections and relationships are complex and highly interdependent (e.g. a donor may be a volunteer and part of a household with other critical connections to the organization or its mission).

The second big pain point for nonprofits comes from internal challenges. Outdated systems that don’t share information easily or don’t provide a single view of interactions with the constituent base make it harder for nonprofit employees to grow those relationships. When interactions are not tracked across channels (social, website, email), there is not enough useful data to drive business decisions.

What are some of the innovative things you see nonprofits doing with technology?

Mark Koenig: Although the focus of many of the nonprofits we work with is on fundraising, I see the innovations happening more on the program side. The focus tends to be around improving the constituent experience, and not surprisingly, Salesforce Communities and mobile technology are at the center of that.

Another area where we are seeing a ton of innovation is around advocacy. As the Salesforce Marketing Cloud continues to mature, I expect to see nonprofit organizations finding new ways to use the capabilities it provides — not only to get their messages out, but to fulfill their missions.

What do you think attracts nonprofits to the Salesforce ecosystem?

Gene Zeyger: In order to have meaningful, personal, and profitable interactions with constituents, beneficiaries, and partners, nonprofits need a centralized, integrated, and scalable system of record — a need that Salesforce can meet.

Another draw is that the Salesforce Foundation focuses on donating and subsidizing software for nonprofit organizations. Through its grants and programs, the Foundation has allowed thousands of nonprofits to benefit from world-class technology. The cloud delivery model is perfect for nonprofits, as it allows them to keep a small IT staff and minimize the cost and efforts associated with managing the technology.

Salesforce has become a true platform for automating business processes — not only specific to nonprofit organizations, but also highly specialized solutions within an individual organization’s unique needs. Combined with the scalability and data security framework native to Salesforce, this solution becomes a powerful platform for managing multiple facets of an organization’s automation requirements from development to marketing to donor management to program management.

Another big benefit for nonprofits is the ecosystem itself — the broad base of end-users and AppExchange partners that provide unlimited insights and capabilities on the platform. The need for development is limited, and users can turn to the ecosystem for recommended solutions to particular requirements they may have. The broad Salesforce community allows for significant collaboration across multiple disciplines and capabilities.

Want to learn how to better engage constituents and deepen crucial relationships in your own nonprofit organization?

Discover the processes and solutions that Appirio’s nonprofit customers are using to transform their organizations in our ebook, Creating Exceptional Constituent Experiences — 3 Focus areas for Nonprofits.


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