With tight budgets and big missions, nonprofit leaders take their investments seriously. Finding the right tools for your nonprofit requires time and research. The best purchases will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your staff, programming, and donor relationships. But, there’s another piece to buying new technology that many nonprofits must consider: your board.
Big changes and purchases often need the buy-in of your board. Asking your board to approve a new investment in nonprofit technology:
- Makes them feel like valuable members of your organization, encouraging their ongoing engagement with your work
- Ensures you’re getting multiple viewpoints to shed light on any blindspots when setting aside funding for a significant purchase
- Adds greater transparency to your financial processes, holding you accountable to your funders and nonprofit bylaws
While convincing your board to purchase new nonprofit technology may seem burdensome at first, it needn’t be. Below, we’ll offer six tips for getting your board “on board” with your investment.
1. Meet Individually With Board Members in Advance
Cold pitching a room full of board members who have never heard of your idea before might not be the best strategy for success. To increase the likelihood of your board warming up to your proposal faster, float the idea to a few of them beforehand.
By meeting informally with board members one-on-one to run the concept by them, you can:
- Gain key board members as advocates for your cause in advance of your big board ask
- Ask what the blind spots in your presentation might be and what your board members’ opinions are for fixing those
- Learn what questions other board members might have during your presentation so you can prepare your answers in advance
Your board meeting pitch shouldn’t be the first time everyone is hearing about your plans to invest in nonprofit technology. It’ll be much easier if you already have a few friendly faces in the audience who are familiar with your idea and can chime in to support what you’re presenting.
2. Show You’ve Completed Thoughtful Research
If you’ve spent time researching nonprofit technology vendors, you may have already landed on a favorite before asking your board for their support. However, your board will be more likely to agree with your conclusion if you walk them through your research process.
Rather than present one vendor option to board members, show them:
- How many vendor options you reviewed
- Pros and cons of each platform you considered
- Tidbits you learned from other nonprofits already using the technology
- Cost comparisons between platforms and your expected return on investment for each
By shepherding your board members through your research process, you build a strong case for why they should support your conclusions and preferred vendor.
3. Focus on the Overall Return on Investment (ROI)
Big investments often come with sticker shock. You can help board members embrace the upfront cost of investing in new nonprofit technology by focusing on its overall ROI. Plan to show board members how the technology will pay for itself over time through:
- Freed up staff hours through being able to automate administrative tasks, and more skilled work accomplished as a result
- More efficient organization that supports better donor cultivation for larger and more frequent gifts
- Ability for board members to use the software to more easily support the organization's donor stewardship activities
Investing in new nonprofit technology does come with a price tag, but it’s the kind that can help your nonprofit grow into its next level of service.
4. Anticipate and Address Fears Through a Future-Focused Lens
Change can be hard, and board members might feel wary about this transition. They may have concerns about:
- What happens if the technology doesn’t work
- How they’ll learn to use a new technology
- Whether this shift will cause your nonprofit to lose current work
The best way to approach this shift is to acknowledge your board members’ fears while focusing on how this startup effort will let your nonprofit take steps into the future.
Show board members how this nonprofit technology will help get you where you want to be in the next year, as well as the next five or ten years. Detail how it is integral to your mission, vision, and values. Let your board members know that you understand their fears, but help assuage those by showing what is possible.
5. Leverage the Help of Your Preferred Potential Vendor
You’ll learn a lot about nonprofit technology as you research your favorite options. However, it can still be helpful to bring in an outside expert to talk about the technology. Once you’ve landed on a preferred potential vendor, ask them to work with you on efforts to convince your board that this is the right option for your nonprofit.
Nonprofit technology vendors can:
- Provide case studies from other nonprofit users
- Offer thorough and digestible written resources on the product
- Assist with putting together a presentation on the nonprofit technology
- Schedule a live demo of the product in action
- Meet directly with your board to answer questions
Instil has an easy online request form to see a demo of our product. Taking advantage of these types of opportunities shows you what makes a platform stand out.
6. Avoid Unnecessary Jargon
Just because you’re investing in new technology doesn’t mean you need to start getting all techy with your board members. Keep your pitch language simple. If there are industry terms that you have to look up to understand, it’s likely your board members would need to as well. Find ways to translate those for your audience.
Overall, you want to speak in a language that is true to your nonprofit's brand and that resonates with your board members rather than trying to leverage all the latest software lingo. Aim for personal over technical to inspire your board members to hop on the cause.
Partner With Your Board to Invest in the Best Nonprofit Technology
Your board members aren’t a block to your nonprofit’s growth. Instead, they’re partners that can help you identify blindspots, keep your decisions forward-focused, and make the best choices for your mission.
As you get your pitch together for them on why you need to invest in nonprofit technology, think of them as a valuable extension of your team. Speak with them one-on-one to gain key advocates, demonstrate to them how you’ve gone about your research, and help them visualize your future ROI.
Reaching out to experts at your preferred vendor is a great way to get the conversation started. You can contact Instil’s software experts for questions, demos, or educational materials any time through our website.