Ok, imagine you are a digital strategist in a not-for-profit organization, and you've been working hard on a proposal to bring to your senior leadership team. It's finally time to really use digital in a transformative way, and your proposal just rocks. But when you finally pitch your ideas, and even though there's a real desire from members, staff and your team, your leadership doesn't go for it. It's canned, and all your work is down the drain.
What went wrong? How can you make digital sexy for your leadership? At a recent conference, I had a chance to think about some of these issues with a number of like-minded communications and digital folk, including Dan Pollock from net squared Victoria. @danpollock
The most important issue is that you want to be able to have a fully engaged leadership team that is in support of digital. Digital initiatives are emerging as critical in organizations today. Yet why don't they get it? There can be a culture clash between the younger tech savvy communications staff, and the often, older, leadership teams. This canbe frustrating as the millennial cohort wants to use digital tools almost exclusively, whereas older communication professionals have used more face-to-face communications and want to continue that.
Resourcing projects properly can also be a challenge. Executive directors face hard decisions in choosing whether a project receives funding or not. But as one communications professional remarked, "it's not worth doing if it isn't resourced properly". In other words if you're not doing it well, don't bother. And sometimes folks feel that digital tools should all be "free", but as I'm fond of saying, it's "free as in puppies, not free as in beer!" What this means is that while a tool, like Drupal's CiviCRM or Salesforce, might be "free" in terms of licensing, it's certainly not free to train your staff, or to hire consultants to make sure the set-up is right. The right expertise is fantastic offered at the right time. It can save a lot of money in the long run.
Some strategies that you can use when you pitch your projects is to show leadership examples of what has worked before. Often, it's not possible for people to really understand your project idea if they can't see it. So find examples of things like what you're thinking. And see if you can provide some solid backup for some success around what you're showing. And if you are showing a tool, don't get caught up in the specifics of the tool. Craft a strategy that uses the tool. It's easier for ED's to sign off on strategy, than a specific tool, which leaves you freedom to choose the tools you need.
Next article, I'll discuss some concrete strategies to make sure you can avoid common pitfalls.