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December 7, 2020

Technology Consulting for Nonprofits | Kanopi

Matthew
Matthew Luzitano

From planning new fundraising campaigns to building donor relationships to promoting upcoming opportunities and events, nonprofit leaders have to juggle quite a lot.

While many can get by with the help of their passionate team members and volunteer base, often the expertise of a consultant is invaluable.

One of the largest areas of consulting that nonprofits seek is in technology. With the abundance of fundraising software, constituent relationship management (CRM) platforms, content management systems (CMS), and all of their capabilities, it can get overwhelming setting up the best solution and tech strategy for your nonprofit’s unique needs. 

Nonprofit technology consultants can provide a wide range of benefits for your organization, especially if you align your goals and flesh out an actionable plan. However, if you’ve never worked with a consultant before, or you’re considering finding a new one, navigating this relationship and setting realistic expectations can be challenging.

This guide will walk you through the basic offerings of a nonprofit technology consultant, explore the process of hiring the right firm, and share how our own services at Kanopi can help your nonprofit organization.

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Contact us for a helping hand with your nonprofit technology strategy and boost your web presence today.

Nonprofit Technology Consulting: The Basics

Let’s imagine you are the leader of a growing nonprofit organization. You have a basic system with an online donation tool, CRM, and CMS platform— however, these solutions are not integrated. Your online fundraising has grown in the past year, and while you’re happy about the upsurge of donors, it’s getting harder to organize and manage all of the new data you have. 

While investing in the best tools can certainly make a difference, if you don’t know how to use those tools to drive your mission forward, you’re likely missing out on a couple of key opportunities. 

Nonprofit technology consultants are experts in the software solutions that power an organization’s mission. They work closely with nonprofits to review their operations and develop strategic tech improvements that can boost the organization’s efforts.

Whether your current nonprofit software no longer supports your growing operations or you want to optimize your nonprofit website, turning to a tech consultant can focus your efforts and ensure that the tools you use advance your mission.

Depending on their specialty, nonprofit tech consultants can provide guidance for the following tools:

  • Fundraising software like online donation tools, matching gift databases, prospect research tools, and more.
  • Event registration software to promote fundraising opportunities, create landing pages, and regulate supporter participation.
  • Communication and marketing software like email tools and text messaging tools.
  • CRM systems to organize donor profiles, track fundraising metrics, and compile comprehensive reports.
  • Volunteer management software to better recruit, retain, and engage volunteers.
  • CMS systems to create a beautifully branded nonprofit website and effectively market upcoming opportunities.

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Nonprofit Technology Consulting Services

Nonprofit tech consultants can assist with a number of different services. For example, some of the common ones are:

  • Technology solution building. When it comes to leading a nonprofit, there are a number of engagements and processes that need to be considered, as well as what tools will facilitate them. Nonprofit tech consultants can be a guide when it comes to building the best solution for the organization. They’ll work closely with the client to gauge the current system and then make a plan for recommendations. 
  • Technology strategy development. Once a comprehensive and dependable tech solution is in place, consultants can come in to aid in strategy development. This is best done by working closely with the client and becoming familiar with their unique goals and needs. 
  • Research on nonprofit’s goals, audience, and mission. The best consultant for any sector and industry will be one that truly makes the effort to align with their client’s goals, audience, and mission. This way, the suggestions and changes they implement are working towards the common goal(s).
  • Web design, development, and support. A nonprofit’s website is the virtual face of their organization. It’s where donors can give online, where supporters can learn about the mission, and volunteers can sign up for events. Nonprofit tech consultants can help fundraising leaders determine the best CMS for their needs, as well as assist in web design, development, and support. 
  • Staff augmentation. Sometimes your nonprofit could use the help of extra hands, but can’t necessarily afford to hire new staff. Some nonprofit tech consultants can step in and provide the needed help with their own team, whether it’s in tech development or other support.

Choosing a Nonprofit Technology Consultant

So how do you find the best nonprofit tech consultant for your organization? You might be asking questions like, should the team be local? What type of experience should you look for? How can you find an agency that aligns with your organization’s values and goals?

Well, there’s more to it than just picking the first one on Google search.

In order to find the perfect technology consultant for your nonprofit, here are the common steps you might take:

1. Review your nonprofit needs. 

What are the areas in your tech solution where you need the most help? Is it in data storage or integration? 

Divide your needs into two categories, “immediate” and “long-term”. This can help you prioritize the tasks that you’d want the consultant to tackle first!

2. Meet with your nonprofit’s board and discuss guidelines. 

Of course, the rest of the nonprofit leadership team should be on the same page about hiring outside help and what the help is for. This prevents any confusion or pushback later on.

Additionally, this ensures that your team understands the exact gaps that the nonprofit tech consultant is filling. This helps you and your team better advocate for the type of consulting you’ll need to drive your mission.

From there, consider guidelines for a general budget, a target start date for the consulting service, and a general timeframe for the partnership. Remember, these guidelines are just there to do just that— guide you. It’s important to remain flexible, as not everything can be predicted before the partnership even begins.

3. Compile a list of consultants you might want to work with.

It’s now time to start researching potential nonprofit technology consultants. Here are some of the methods that organizations use to find potential partners:

  • Recommendations from colleagues at similar nonprofit organizations
  • Online lists or directories of top nonprofit technology consulting firms

From here, consider what is most important to you. If you prefer to meet in-person with a team, then look for an agency that is local. If you know that you need consulting in website development and support, make sure to review the agency’s specialties to see if they align with your goals. 

One of the most important things to consider in your nonprofit tech consultant is their experience. If their client history includes nonprofits and other organizations similar in size and mission to yours, that’s a good indication that they have the necessary skills to help with your own technology solution and strategy.

4. Consider putting out a request for proposal (RFP)

Oftentimes, nonprofits will create a request for proposal for a technology consultant. An RFP’s purpose is to communicate your nonprofit’s exact needs, your mission, the current context of your organization, and any relevant goals when working with a consultant. Asking for a proposal from a potential consultant partner is a great way for you to determine which candidate is best for you.

Your official RFP will be unique to your organization and dependent on a number of factors. However, there are definitely fundamental components that you should include if you want the best results. Make sure your nonprofit’s RFP has:

This is an example of a RFP when hiring a nonprofit technology consultant.
  • An overview of your organization, any relevant history, your mission, and a brief description of your donor base.
  • A description of your nonprofit tech needs.
  • The guidelines of the partnership, like the general budget and timeframe.
  • Expected outcomes for the partnership. You can even include a list of tangible deliverables.
  • Any questions or requests to the consultant team for additional information or background history.

Generally, your RFP should summarize your nonprofit’s needs in a concise way, giving the consultant the necessary information to propose a strategy to address them. The more focused your RFP is, the more effective the proposal will be!

Continue your research with our presentation on writing a winning RFP by Allison Manley:

5. Reach out to top candidates.

Next, it’s time to compile a list of top candidates based on your research. Have your team rank their favorite consultants and then compare the rankings. If there are any clear frontrunners, that’s a clear indication of who might be best.

Once you’ve narrowed down your top picks and finalized your RFP, it’s time to reach out to them. This is the perfect time to introduce your organization and provide the consultant with your RFP. Make sure they know how and when to get back in touch.

6. Ask for references and follow up

Hiring a consultant is a lot like hiring staff. You need to make sure this is someone with whom you can build a relationship and work effectively with.

You and your team should review each of the proposals that you receive from your request. Consider all of the points made in the above steps when determining the best technology consultant for your nonprofit.

Don’t be afraid to also ask for references. Having a good idea of their relationship with other clients can inform you if their approach is right for you.

Once you know who you want to work with, make sure to follow up and start discussing the next steps!

Kanopi: Top Nonprofit Technology Consultant

Now more than ever, a nonprofit website is necessary to drive your online fundraising, meaningfully engage with supporters, and push you towards your mission. As a top partner for nonprofits, we at Kanopi Studios have helped develop over 150 active sites thanks to our continuous improvement team.

Website development, maintenance, and support come naturally to us. With our wide range of website services, we aim to work with you to make the most of your organization’s online presence. Even when your site is officially launched, our work is not done. We also provide a full website growth plan to ensure that your site is sustainable for as long as possible.

This website growth plans often includes: 

  1. how to increase conversions for your organization using your website;
  2. CMS customization based on your unique situation;
  3. a three to five-year breathing window (if operating on Drupal.) 

Your own plan will be focused on your nonprofit’s unique technological needs. One of our most attractive draws is our complete approach to web design and continuous improvement. We know that small, incremental changes are more beneficial to your website’s health than large structural and system updates every couple of months.

Kanopi Nonprofit Tech Consulting Services

Our specific technology consulting services for your nonprofit include:

  • User-focused approach to strategy, design, and development.
  • Continuous improvement approach to website maintenance.
  • CMS development for Drupal, WordPress, or Mukurtu users with third-party integrations, key feature development, bug fixes, security patches, and more.
  • Extensive research to ensure that Kanopi understands the nonprofit’s goals, missions, and audience, improving your overall website UX.
  • Accessibility and compliance consulting to ensure that your website is accessible to people of all abilities and compliant with necessary laws.
  • Technical SEO optimization to keep your website high in the rankings for popular keywords.
  • Keeping up with relevant privacy laws and legislations, like whether California’s CPAA affects your organization.
  • User persona creation based on the research collected to map your supporters’ journeys once they visit your site. This also helps you attract site visitors and guide them to your targeted action.
  • Web design and content strategy development to align your website with your mission and your supporters’ needs.
  • User testing to ensure that all of the new features and tech strategy work together.
  • A full website growth plan to set your website up for success even once the partnership is over.
  • Staff augmentation by some of our most talented team members. We can provide extra hands when it comes to design or development tasks.

With our flexible and completely customized approach to tech consulting for your nonprofit, we go above and beyond for our clients. We don’t aim to just be consultants, but extensions of your team to ensure that your nonprofit website and CMS solution are doing all they can for your mission.

All of our team members are experts at what they do, with an average of 11 years of experience for both the Drupal and WordPress platforms. Explore our portfolio of nonprofit clients to see how we work and the great results we’ve helped create.

Contact us to see if our nonprofit technology consulting services meet your needs.

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