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    18 min read

    How Technology Can Help Your Non-Profit

    Episode 92

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    Wine of the Week

    The Wine of the Week is a 2021 Shiraz Tempranillo – Pokolbin Estate Vineyard. An elegant medium-bodied wine displaying berry fruit & dark cherries with a hint of pepper & spice.




    Nick: Well, ladies and gentlemen, hello and welcome to The WineDown.

    Today we're discussing technology, digital maturity in the not-for-profit sector, how investing in technology can actually help your not-for-profit organisation.

    So sit back, relax and enjoy.


    Nick: Hello and welcome to The WineDown. I'm Nick and this is Scott. Hello, Scott. How are you?

    Scott: Good. Thank you, Nick. How have you been?

    Nick: I've been very well indeed. I've been very well indeed.

    Now, we're remote today, which is kind of strange.

    Scott: We are remote, so there's something different and back and forth a bit, but that's we've been travelling a bit, too. So, this is probably the easiest way for us to work remotely.

    Nick: We can do that more because there's more travelling coming up over the next couple of weeks. It's like travel. Travel.

    Scott: There is indeed. Who would have thought that work remotely actually means you have to go somewhere.

    Nick: Rather than home, that's a really interesting point. There you are. All the events are back on. All this face-to-face stuff is happening, people moving around. It's all very frightening.

    So where are we? What are we drinking?

    Scott: Well, clearly, we are in our own little virtual studios. We've got this Colban estate. Probably can't see that very well. There we go, the Corbin estate. It's a Shiraz Tempranillo, it's a 2021. This is from up in well, you guessed it, deeper Colbon area in the Hunter. And it's actually quite nice. It's good drinking and it's new, it's fresh, although there's not a lot of really old sort of Tempranillos floating around. They tend to be the more recently drinkable vintages, but, yeah, it's a good drop.

    Nick: Cool. And your score?

    Scott: I'd give this a 3.9.

    Nick: 3.9. Excellent. I can't say anything about it, can I? But never mind. Never mind. I'll expense some this afternoon.

    All right, so, look, there's a report just out by this time, not, talking about not for profits. So, this is's not-for-profit sector releasing a report which talks about lots of countries and what's going on in the not-for-profit sector and what's not. And it's quite fascinating to see some of the things there. And some I kind of agree with, some I know nothing about and some I disagree with. So I'm going to bombard Scott with questions.

    Scott's on, I think, a couple of boards and heavily involved in the not-for-profit sector, at least here in Australia. I'm not sure how much he's done around the world, but we'll give it a go. Look, we're talking about digital maturity for not for profits. Okay?

    So we're looking at some trends in that sector. So let's begin. We're just going to dive through it. Number one, which was on everybody's list when they talk to salesforce and it's really funny. I wonder how much is on people's mind so much now, is remotely managing, so remote, working for staff and/or volunteers.

    How's that going from a non-profit side?

    Scott: It's interesting. A lot of non-profit organisations have moved online and I think it's the report, the data out of the salesforce report and we're just going to cover few topics in that salesforce report. Initially, it's showing about 78% are now purely virtual. Now, depending on how you want to look at about 60 odd thousand non-profits.

    The Australian ACNC register, which is essentially where the registry is of all the non-profits, are most of the non-profits, I should say it tends to track who's who in the non-profit space and what's going on. 78% now existing virtually only. I think that's probably grown a little bit. This data is probably about a year old give or take, so I think that's probably increased.

    I don't think organisations are running away from some of the major offices, but I suspect, as per what we've seen in the commercial space, that there has been a lot of downsizing of actual office space needed, especially for volunteers that used to have to go somewhere.

    You can now see them doing a lot of that material online. So that's something. But of course, with that and with everybody being online, you've got things like how do we manage our staff, how do we manage our teams remotely? And these are common things that we've sort of come across. But it's perhaps a little different in the non-profit space because you're working with a lot of volunteers as well. That could only be half a day a week or a day a week or a few hours here, a few hours there, and you've still going to manage those workloads. So it's more important to be across everybody that's there and what they're doing and how they're doing it, and making sure that everything's coming together for them.

    Nick: So I know like lots of people volunteer for not for profits, for the social aspect, with the social aspect, with that kind of virtual not for profits and that remote stuff, social aspect kind of disappears. So have you seen, at least in your space, a reduction in volunteers or volunteers being less happy doing what they're doing?

    Scott: I think what we've probably seen is a small shift in the makeup of who is a volunteer these days. And just to clarify, when you're talking about social, you're talking about people physically getting together in a social environment, not social media like a Facebook or that sort of thing.

    So we've actually seen a good engagement from a lot of the youth, for example. But it's a small and a fast engagement, which is interesting.

    Nick: Okay. I'll become a life member of this association by volunteering for the next 100,000 years if they come in to help with something and they go and do something else.

    Scott: Yeah.

    And more likely than not that will be online. Sure, I can spend half an hour here, done that, next to a bit later on the week, blah, blah, blah, blah, as different to someone that may say, I'm going to donate a day or two of my time, go to an office, sit down, do some actual work and that sort of thing. So it's a trend and it's an interesting trend that we have to, of course, keep up with. And then you've got the challenges that we sort of mentioned before about how do you manage someone that may work for you an hour here and an hour there during the week, which comes into the tools, the systems, the management processes around that.

    Nick: The report was published from November last year, so it's been around for a little while. But they were saying, they noted that 50% across professions are burnt out and they're lonely, not as a result of social isolation, but from the emotional exhaustion of being burnt out in the workplace. Do you think the trend to do these things virtually has created burnout for everyone?

    People talk about being more productive at home, but you're also you're missing out on some of the things that make work fun, which probably aren't all about productivity, right?

    Scott: No, it's about the water cooler. Of course. There's all the activity around the water cooler. I don't think this is a non-profit specific thing. I think this is a general observation across lots of lots of businesses, lots of industry types, when you sort of say to everyone, look, all of a sudden, here's a laptop, go work from home, go work it out. And people have done that for the last couple of years. But what is now missing now that things have opened back up again? Like us, we're travelling on planes. Where are those sort of in person work events? Or I shouldn't say event, it's more like the in-person work activities that occur every week sitting down as a team. Even for us, although we tend to work remotely, a lot of the times we make sure the teams at least together once or twice a week, just to socialise and to look at a face and say, that's who this is.

    Nick: Maybe not my development team, but certainly no, I get that.

    Scott: I will do a call out to Lester, who now knows who Nash is anyway.

    Nick: Yeah, been a month or two. But it's funny, isn't it, when you look at some of the features you get in tools like Microsoft Teams, for example. So we use all our communication and there's a whole bunch in there about giving people kudos and winding down and doing a virtual commute and all of that mindfulness stuff in there.

    But I also noticed they're starting to turn on technologies that help you be a better speaker when you're talking online and communicate better and do better eye contact. And it popped up to me the other day and said I'm not allowed to use the term you guys anymore, because that could be offensive to some people.

    Scott: I guess you got to be very careful in what you're saying and how it's taken these days. I guess this comes a little bit into where AI's heading in some respects. If you've got systems and tools monitoring what you're saying, what you're typing, how you're going about it with all these suggestions. And this is the grammarly - you type this. Maybe you'd like to type this instead. It's a bit like a smart clippy, in a way.

    Nick: Yeah, we're kind of talking about AI. There's this comment in this thing saying AI is going to have a massive difference. I think 81% of not for Profits are looking at AI to help automate operations. But AI is not just about automating operations. It's a whole bunch of things that it does and can do, which is pretty amazing.

    Scott: I think the AI references are a lot more about process automation than they are about actual AI. Things like, let's move our marketing online, and if this person subscribes to this and then does this, and then does it send them this automatically? Or if this process…

    Nick: that's not artificial intelligence.

    Scott: No, it's more just taking what we think of and putting it into an automated tool. But it's the start of artificial intelligence, in a way. It's the start of thinking about having the computer make the decision for you, even if you're specifically programming whatever that decision is.

    Nick: Yeah. I did notice in this report from Salesforce, even Australia, 82%, which just happens to be the global average of NFPs, are expecting to rely more on technology than people to run the organisation.

    Scott: Yeah. In one respect, that's not surprising when you've got I think that the organisation of old go back 20 or 30 years and you would have teams of administrative people behind the scenes doing tasks for you. What does my P&L look like? Then they're manually adding stuff up or…

    Nick: putting them into spreadsheets or calculators or card files or typing pools and all that kind of stuff.

    Scott: Yeah, that's just it. So, when we talk about technology, is automating those parts? Yeah. And we've seen it. Are you using Xero? Does it produce the P&L for you? Can you submit expenses automatically? Yes, and those sort of efficiency gains are fairly commonplace these days.

    Nick: It's interesting. And they're getting more and more commonplace, and I think as kids grow up, they're going to be more and more used to that. Again, one of the things this report doesn't mention a lot is the demographics in not for profits. And I'm sure like any business, the older your senior management, the less you kind of keep up with this stuff, because it's moving fast and it's kind of exciting.

    Scott: We see that a bit in donations as well. It used to be you would have a smaller number of donations of larger sizes, so you would have your big dinner events or in person events, and you might be having people donating $500 or $1,000 or $5000 or $10,000 at a time, and that sort of disappeared. That is still there. But with everything moving online and the whole digital economy sort of thing, what we're seeing is a massive trend towards finding 10,000 people who will donate $2, for example, and just go tap in an app somewhere and be done with it. Think about it for 10 seconds. Tap Next.

    Nick: Yeah, so it's quite interesting here's. One of my soapboxes I think we're going to talk about Next is the use of data to make decisions. I like saying to senior execs in medium and small and medium businesses is the difference between you and the equivalent global enterprise that does what you do is that they 100% and only use data to make their decisions, whereas you still rely on Gut. And looking at the data from salesforce, it's only 34% of respondents saying, we make decisions based on data and evidence, which is truly frightening, really. And I guess there's a couple of things, without access to the right data, how you're going to use it to make decisions. But in your world, where you're looking to 10,000 people to donate $2, well, if you can get 10,000 people donating $2, how does it get a million people donating $2? It's not that big a leap, right?

    Scott: But that's it. And it's more about your marketing message and your reach and how can you enable that through social media platforms than it is about the old ways of thinking about what do we do with this? And the thing about the data as well. Also, the older days organisations would buy some of these big software solutions like Tableau or there's half a dozen of the big sort of data analytics packages, but that easily be $100,000 plus beyond the scope of most of the smaller organisations out there. These tools are coming down.

    Nick: They are, so a couple of stats which really surprised me, because this is all about people not actually using technology to do what it's really good at. 31% said we are able to accurately forecast income from our fundraising campaigns. So are you telling me that 69% of not-for-profits are doing activities out there with no idea what income they'll get from it.

    Scott: Yeah, perhaps no idea is not right, but perhaps I don't think they've got the volume of campaigns running or they've got the history of those approaches to show that we know that if we throw like $500 at Facebook Book, we're going to get $7,000 back in campaign, in donations. If we target this audience on these days in this way sort of thing.

    Nick: So then people fall back to running their annual events or their charity fundraiser or their church fate because they've always done those things. Yet what you're saying is those events may not I'm not saying this is I've got no idea. But what we're not saying those events, just because you've always done them and your not-for-profit has existed for a while, doesn't mean that those are the best way for you to fundraise or will be next year, year.

    Scott: I think it's a mix. I think those types of events will always be there because you've got a certain audience type that really enjoys those things.

    Nick: You need to use the data to make those decisions.

    Scott: Right, true. Rather than we know we make ten grand, 50 grand, 100 grand every time we run that event, therefore let's just keep running that. I get that, but that is more gut feel than it is the data telling you that. But this is it, do you remember the old used to have dell would advertise a lot online in the newspaper and the magazines and there'd always be a little promo code thing underneath if you wanted to take advantage of the offer. They had everything had an offer on as an attraction to buy.

    So they would look at all those promo codes and they say, if we know that if we target this magazine in this month or this website at these times, we'll get a return of X versus we've tried these and these and these and those primary cases, they just didn't work. Or we got like a 3% return or something, therefore we're not going to spend money there.

    And a lot of the smarts in the marketing has been around in the enterprise space for a long time, is now starting to become available to the lower end markets, into the SMEs, into the non-profits and so forth.

    Nick: Here's an interesting stat which is sitting before me. So we've just gone through their stats. So things are changing the areas, donations are changing. 30% of not for profits are using data to make their decisions and guarantee their income.

    Yet when salesforce, when asked people about their digital maturity, 90% said their technology was good or excellent in all areas.

    Scott: Yes.

    Nick: I've never ever been to an NFP where 90% of people can tell me their technologies, probably because we're going in the support capacity and it's not good at the time. But that's quite impressive.

    Scott: I think there's a couple of bits to that. I think there's no connection on what defines good? Well, yeah, we got a laptop, it works. You turn it on, it starts up, therefore it's good, it's functional. I think if you look at that as good, it sets the bar fairly low. But you're right, every 90% of NFP is saying, look, we've got decent stuff, it tends to work, off we go. What could possibly go wrong.

    Yet, as you've seen, we're looking at this other figure, which was the 22% that actually said we feel comfortable that we are a fair way along on that digital maturity scale and can actually use data to make decisions.

    Nick: Yes, that's why it's interesting. So we're heading into this digital maturity and anybody who is anybody in consulting will come up with a maturity model and they've normally got kind of five steps and you grade yourself on them and it says how mature you are. But there's a really interesting statue. We talk about those in a sec. But there's a really interesting statistic that those who ranked low out of those not-for-profits, 0% said they were able to forecast their income, so they couldn't. 24% in the medium digital maturity, and in high digital maturity, that was up to 64% of not-for-profits able to forecast their income. So if I think about being any business, being able to forecast your income effectively is a key metric for growth. Without that, it's very hard to make longer-term growth decisions. Right.

    Scott: We're talking about hitting a budget. If you're forecasting your income, you can do that accurately. Surely you've got a budget for the coming year. So really it's a matter of hitting or exceeding whatever your budgeted numbers are.

    Nick: Interesting.

    Scott: So where to from here?

    There's a lot of stats and data that sort of says, people may think this scenario is good, but really the definition of good these days is a bit past where it used to be. Those organisations, I think we need some.

    Nick: If I was to say, and you could probably do this off the top of your head, if there were five things to look at in my business that said my NFP, that says my NFP is not digitally mature, what do you think those five signs would be, Scott?

    Scott: Look, straight off the top of their head.


    Where is your data? It doesn't have one place, but is it in a smaller number of places and those places talked to each other or there's some sort of API or interface or connection that allows them to communicate their data back and forth such that your tools have got ready access to all the information you need to be able to start making decisions?

    Because in most cases, what we see is data is all over the place. When we start to look at your average sort of non-profit, there's some here, there's some there, there's some stuff on someone's laptop, there's some stuff in a dropbox there's. People are using box, some of the things are in teams. OneDrive, you know, some of the Microsoft accounts are personal ones, some of them are business ones.

    It's a mix of everything and anything. And then you sort of realise, well, how on earth is someone going to try to look at generating smarts out of that data when you can't even get it all together in one place to look at it in the first place?

    Nick: Yes. Cool. That's one. What's the next one?

    Scott: Process. Digital process. Many non-profits I've seen, they've got processes in place because they've been around for a long time. They wouldn't have started yesterday, and it's a blank slate. They've certainly got a way of performing things. Is it efficient when we think digital? And I'd say that's probably no. The level of process or the level of improvement that can be had in the current process is using digital and technology to make things more efficient. I think there's quite a gap there.

    Nick: Cool, cool. Excellent. Next one?

    Scott: I said first about not having access to data all over the place. Part of it is also when you do get access to the data, people don't understand what the data is. So I'm looking at this going, well, okay, that's this we captured that this way here, but we then captured that this way over there. And these two things don't really align on any sort of basis. Therefore, what have we really got here? Different data measured different ways in different scenarios and trying to be applied to get a common answer on something. And it's probably creating more confusion than anything else and a lot of time making assumptions. And the more assumptions you make, the greater your error rate is in your answer.

    Nick: That's a good one. Next one we’re onto 4 now, come on.

    Scott: Okay, this would come back to the forecasting that we were talking about earlier, whether it's for things like your fundraising campaigns, whether it's forecasting budgets or whatever. There's still a lot of sort of gut work involved in that. The ability to sort of say a tools, look at everything we did last year. What should we do more of? And if we did more of that, what sort of numbers it's the or what if type stuff, analysis out of Excel, but better sort of thing, but the ability to generate some sort of fundamental projections on where we should be or where we think we're going to be based upon what happens.

    Nick: Okay. Last one.

    Scott: Pending and the loss events happening. Of course, this is not too bad, but this is actually using data to personalise your interaction with people.

    Nick: It's something like, Dear Scott, I noticed it's your birthday next week. And last year on your birthday you donated X for Y. Why don't you do it again this year?

    Scott: That type of thing. Yes. Dear Atkinson Scott, that was done well. I got an email even this morning, from a well-known global data accuracy company. And essentially, this is an organisation that you would go to if you wanted to, say, clean your data. You've got a lot of data and they have, in theory, all the most accurate records on all these people globally. So, you say, oh, I'm missing that bit, I'm missing this, I'm missing that, and they fill in all the missing bits of data for you. So you go, okay, that's interesting. What can we do with that? And it started off by saying, we're working with many businesses just like yourselves, such as T Mobile.

    Nick: Yeah, I think T Mobile are a little different.

    Scott: They're a global telecommunications carrier. How does that match with what we do? And if this is the accuracy coming out of the data matching company, then I don't know. Anyway, and that's the thing about this whole thing, that we need to be able to make use of data in such a way that we can personalise our experiences. That whole customer experience thing, making it feel like the organisation you're dealing with knows you a bit and is coming across in a warm way, not in a computerised generic way.

    Nick: That's cool. So let me give you the list as you kind of set them and see if that works. You should really think that your NFP has issues with digital maturity. I.e. you're not digitally mature if:

    1. You struggle with managing your data.
    2. You have a lack of processes and a lack of process automation.
    3. It's hard when you have your data, you can't make sense of it, you don't know what it means.
    4. You can't forecast income on your fundraising campaigns or grants, etc.
    5. And it's impossible to provide really good, personalised communications to your donors.

    Scott: There's probably more, but I would have thought if you got that sorted out, you'd be a fair way ahead.

    Nick: Yeah. So let's say somebody's been listening to us today and they've heard all of this and they've gone, oh, one of those. What are the things they can do to improve their digital maturity, apart from phone Scott, which is exactly what you want to do?

    Scott: Well, first of all, understand what your data is. What data do we have and where is it located? That will at least give you a handle around, look, what are we going to do to stop the sprawl and start getting it into a smaller number of places?

    The second part of that is take that next step and start consolidating your data. Now, it doesn't all have to be in one place. It can be in a few places, like a few key applications, but those applications need to have the ability to be able to talk to other applications so the data can be shared. It needs to be accessible. It's no good if it's all tied up in one app and you can't get it out and you're trying to look at data in another app and say, if we could just get these things to talk to each other. You won't get there. You've really got to think about how strong your application is now to be able to show that they can play with that data and be able to talk to each other.

    Nick: My key one is process automation. Every time you take data from one place and put it into another place, just like you said, you get information in on a campaign, you're typing it into a spreadsheet, give to something else that does something, you need to automate those processes. That's a real sign of digital maturity.

    Scott: Yes. Getting the intellectual property out of someone's head and into assistant, that's always going to be there. That way, if that person goes on leave, if they move into another role or go into a different job somewhere, that you've retained that process and the intellectual property in your organisation automated in your systems.

    Nick: And then finally something we're really good at. So we tried to do a lot, so I don't think we're really good at, but I work a lot on it's, making sure my staff get trained, they get the relevant additional skill uplifts, etc, etc, as we're moving on, staying up to date.

    Scott: Yes. I would say there's one interesting thing out of all of this that has probably been front and centre in the press recently. That's security. Now, nothing we spoke about today mentioned security, and in some respects, there's a reason for that. The existence of security is not what we really see as an increase in your digital maturity. It's not really enabling you to do more things or to satisfy your goal, your objectives, any faster. It is protecting yourselves and it is certainly a necessary thing. But going and implementing a whole security framework, which is, by the way, very important, is not something that's going to transform your organisation.

    I will say security becomes a lot easier when all your data is in a small number of places, rather than having it scattered everywhere, because you're thinking, how do we protect it everywhere? But yes, interesting. Cool.

    Nick: That's awesome. Thank you, Scott.

    Scott: That's all right. Thank you, Nick.

    Nick: Cool. That was lots of fun. 30 minutes of NFPs and digital maturity. Thank you, Any trademarks, are of course, are owned by their respective owners. So thank you so much for watching or listening.

    If you do like what you saw or heard, please give us a like make sure you subscribe and leave a comment if you'd like us to discuss a topic in the future.

    Scott, thank you so much.

    Scott: Thank you, Nick.

    Nick: And thank you all. Have a wonderful day. Bye.