How Effective Collaboration Helps Nonprofits Inspire Global Change | SoftwareONE Blog

Nonprofit Transformation

How Effective Collaboration Inspires Global Change

How Effective Collaboration Helps Nonprofits Inspire Global Change

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) know that good communication and collaboration are an essential part of their day-to-day work. An organization’s ability to navigate complex networks of beneficiaries, funders, competitors, and collaborators ultimately decide whether a mission succeeds or fails. And while each nonprofit has its own charitable journey, sometimes the outdated processes in which they operate hold them back. For a mission to truly succeed, nonprofit organizations need crystal clear communication and collaboration.

In this article, we’ll establish the importance of collaboration in a nonprofit organization, and then explore the barriers involved , the main influencers in the nonprofit sector, and how technology can enable effective collaboration.

The Importance of Collaboration in Nonprofits

Nonprofits best support their missions by spending strategically, increasing organizational efficiency, and collaborating with stakeholders at all levels. Collaboration with other NPOs or partners can help them reach their goals by optimizing efforts. Sharing costs with other organizations for workshops or facility use can help lighten the budget burden and free up funds for the people and communities they serve.

Collaboration can also lead to new ideas, strategies, and goals as well as increased value for effort. Brand awareness, which is often critical for nonprofits to attract donors, can propagate through the larger community due to collaborative efforts with other businesses and entities.

An NPO that prioritizes collaboration is likely to improve its effectiveness and help more people. Digital transformation efforts can significantly increase a nonprofit’s ability to collaborate by creating easier and more open lines of communication around the world, engaging stakeholders with media, and automating tasks that take time away from more productive activities.

Where Nonprofits Tend to Go Wrong

For nonprofits, the primary area of concern is siloed communication and collaboration. This occurs when certain employees or business parties aren’t able to effectively reach each other, and primarily communicate with a small selection of employees and stakeholders. Eventually, this causes problems with realizing the NPO’s mission, creates issues with internal and external messaging, and even results in the disengagement of donors and community members.

Organizational silos in NPOs occur for many reasons. For one, these organizations may struggle to keep their heads above water, particularly if they are utilizing older technology. This makes it difficult to focus on communication between departments and other efforts not directly related to the mission. Lack of modern technology also impacts communication and collaboration if departments are isolated physically—either in different parts of a building or from across the globe.

Because of this, many leading nonprofits have at least started their digital transformation undertaking, resulting in a growth in fundraising, social media exposure, and their ability to serve their community. However, this transformation can also introduce silos as departments and teams within an NPO tend to self-organize – particularly during periods of rapid growth – which leads to the compartmentalization of funding sources and program activities. Further, the data restructuring associated with a cloud migration may cause their organizational silos to become data silos. These silos can lead NPOs to ignore 88 percent of their customer data, hurting both their productivity and their bottom line, and can even result in instability and organizational breakdown. 

Breaking down silos increases transparency, facilitates collaboration, and supports both the digital transformation and mission of nonprofits. Jean-Louis Echochard, VP and CIO at the Nature Conservancy, elaborates on why silos can profoundly affect nonprofit operations. “We have the systems, they hold information elements, but relating them in a coherent way is still a challenge—and the bigger our data, the more apps we use, the bigger the challenge grows,” he says. 

The Main Influencers of the Nonprofit Sector

A complex network of beneficiaries, funders, competitors, and collaborators influence nonprofits, contributing to successes as well as failures. Understanding these influences is essential in crafting a support strategy that centers on collaboration.

These influences break down as follows:

  • Direct Beneficiaries: This primary pool of people uses the organization’s services or directly benefits from its efforts. In order to reach them, NPOs must be able to engage with the larger community both in face-to-face settings and, increasingly, online.
  • Other Beneficiaries/Funders: Nonprofit organizations may benefit multiple other groups by furthering their ideals, supporting their businesses, and complementing efforts in a systematic way. Opportunities abound for collaborative efforts between NPOs and other individuals or groups, so long as they can find each other and open the lines of communication.
  • Other Organizations: No organization is an island. Both for-profit and other nonprofit organizations share the community and may act as potential competitors, collaborators, or both. Surviving competition often requires a technological edge, and partnerships or other relationships can only form when an NPO is able to reach above the noise and catch attention.
  • Inputs/Labor Market: Nonprofits compete for human capital every day in the form of staff, volunteers, and board members. Understanding the trends of talent and other resources is essential to having a complete picture of the nonprofit market.
  • Political/Social Environment: Philanthropic and public funding are both subject to social and political trends that can dramatically influence an organization’s ability to accomplish its mission. Keeping track of these trends and leveraging them when possible is vital.

Technology has a role to play among these influences. It can provide the tools to reach audiences more effectively through advertisement, social media, and even virtual online experiences, opening the gates for collaboration.

Where SoftwareONE Can Guide You

Harnessing SoftwareONE’s full portfolio of services offerings will guide your organization on the best path forward to promote an efficient, secure, and collaborative workplace so you can focus on your mission.

SoftwareONE’s ONEImpact initiative  can unlock the potential and productivity of your teams by:

  • Creating a comprehensive roadmap based on existing capabilities, needs, and market positioning
  • Deploying the right technology and devices to improve the communications
  • Automating business processes
  • Surfacing data to help make the right decisions and inform future actions
  • Accelerating change enablement all on a secure platform

SoftwareONE has the expertise to guide your nonprofit in the right direction, helping you access the technology needed to enable effective transformation, collaboration, and secure innovation.

Moving Forward

If your NPO is ready to move forward with digital transformation in a way that breaks down silos and promotes collaboration, SoftwareONE has the solutions to help you start on that journey today.

SoftwareONE’s ONEImpact initiative was designed to help NPOs worldwide undergo digital transformation by providing the technology and resources to enable positive change and societal impact. We work with you to create budget-friendly comprehensive technology solutions that maximize your ability to grow and connect so you can focus on your mission.

ONEImpact: Enabling Collaboration, Innovation, and Change

The ONEImpact initiative is helping NPOs like yours unlock the potential and productivity of their teams.

Discover Technology Solutions for Nonprofits

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