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Everyone I meet in the digital space would love to see their work having a positive impact on our environment and social justice. Why? We all feel that digital has alienated us from real life over the past decades. Those decades were dedicated to enthusiastically push the limits of technology further.
But we forgot to put real people and their needs in the center of attention. That’s one of the reasons why human centered approaches to digital design and innovation have become extremely popular lately.
The fascination for what technology can do has has given way to a fascination for what technology can do to improve life on earth and elsewhere.
To many it’s a revival of pre-digital utopia.
And this time it’s real.
Besides the fact that most of the best digital practitioners out there would love to work for you, these are my top 3 reasons why you should start your digital transformation journey as a nonprofit now.
Interestingly the mindset required for digital innovation and transformation has a lot in common with the one it takes to dedicate yourself to the mission of a nonprofit.
You need to be confident with the fact that you’ll be up against all odds.
Every other skill is worthless if you don’t have humility, courage and empathy.
Creativity is in high demand to solve diverse challenges on a daily basis.
It’s for adventurous and open-minded spirits. You’re always pioneering.
So this is reason #1 why you should go digital as a nonprofit organisation:
You’ve got the attitude.
Embrace Failure, Find Purpose
There’s a lot of discussion of how important it is to embrace failure in digital transformation. The problem for profit-oriented organisations is that they have established a culture based on KPIs and ROI.
How should they measure the value of failure?
To answer this, every organisation has to find its higher purpose. Find the answers to questions like: What are we doing for humanity? What’s our WHY as an organisation?
Especially large corporates struggle to find a mission and vision statement their customers and employees can relate to. As long as organisations are just reframing their business model they must fail at this until they understand a simple truth:
“Profit isn’t a purpose. It’s a result. To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.” – Simon Sinek
That’s why Boeing and SpaceX have their Mars race. It’s about extending life on earth to uncharted territory.
Reason #2 why you are at an advantage as a nonprofit when going digital:
You don’t need to find your WHY. That’s what you started with.
Sustainable business is not about winning or losing. It’s about how to remain relevant. Countless successful multi billion dollar businesses have been disrupted in recent years. Why did they lose the trust of their customers?
Greed? Ignorance? Overweening sense of self-importance? Loss of market share? Growth stagnation?
Again purpose comes into play. Purpose driven organisations do not need to beat or swallow competitors in order to stay in the game. They don’t need to promise an unrealistic return of investment. And disappoint shareholders with poor performance.
While for-profits strive to stay relevant by any means, nonprofits paradoxically do the very contrary. They are realistic about what they can do in the face of the insurmountable challenge they’ve accepted. Then they work hard to make themselves obsolete.
Reason #3 why you should transform digitally with ease as a nonprofit:
Your relevance is beyond question.
Check out these “pure” digital nonprofits: AVAAZ, Ecosia, Pineapple Fund
ESADE Report on Digital Transformation of NGOs
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