How Nonprofits Can Get Past Technology Culture Shock

We are in the midst of a major technology revolution and succeeding in this revolution does not mean consuming additional technology, or as many of our customers fear, replacing employees with new technology. Nonprofit organizations need to focus on enabling their employees, board members, and the constituents they serve to achieve more with technology.

With technology permeating everything, from our personal and social life to running and measuring the success of our programs, it’s bringing with it ubiquitous and unprecedented amounts of change. There are constantly new technologies available at our fingertips, more accessible data than ever before, legacy and new system integrations and more new collaborations are possible. This positive change has an effect on the stakeholders’ expectations of service, speed, and personalization.

The rise of my generation, the Millennials, brings with it a new type of donor as well as a new type of employee. We were ‘born digital’ and we have expectations about how the workforce should be organized. There is a push towards the “sharing economy” and platforms such as CRM Market which I founded last year, and a more virtual working environment such as the one we have at Cloud for Good, are reshaping the how, when, and where for organizations. This change is just the beginning. I believe that technology will be more integrated into how we do business or create a positive change in the world. Many organizations find themselves overwhelmed by this rapid transition.

There is no need to panic. Stop. Take a deep breath. This is a positive change and you can adjust, and even take advantage, by rethinking how you provide and measure your programs or how you interact with your donors. Organizations will need to develop skills and learn more agile ways of working internally and externally. The work is becoming more technologically focused so your people, processes, and culture must now become technological.

Getting past the technology culture shock might sound daunting, but the good news is there are many organizations out there who are already operating in this new technological era. They can be our inspiration. For example, one of Cloud for Good’s clients, adopted Salesforce as part of their tax preparation program and reported a 66 percent increase over the previous year. In addition, the program moved more than 85,000 low income households toward financial stability.

Here are three suggestions for adopting technology into your culture:

Love the change

Moving at the speed required for a technologically focused organization means developing new skills, new processes, new services, and changing the way they work and collaborate. I do not mean in any way that you should wake up tomorrow morning and change everything about your organization. What I am suggesting is that you should expect it, be open to it, and be prepared to embrace it. The first step is changing your mindset towards technology innovation and not necessarily about changing everything that you do.

Become data driven

While this has become a buzzword over the last few years and we are all familiar with this phrase, I would like to challenge how we may be thinking about it. Being data driven does not mean that we have to buy the best tools in the world to collect and analyze our data. It means that we make decisions based on the data we have collected instead of only basing decisions on our previous experiences or advice from our largest donors and/or foundations.

Understand the risk

With the increasingly fast pace that we are now experiencing change  along with the  infusion of technology into our lives, the leaders of organizations must understand the risks that come with the use of these technologies. These are risks that we did not face before and we need to be responsible and educated consumers about privacy and security as we embrace them.

Our most successful customers do much more than tick off a checklist of technology transformation. They understand that in order to be successful they must invest in their processes, and more importantly, in their people. In order to be successful in the era of data and intelligence, organizations will need to understand that technology cannot and will not fix broken processes. While the implementation of technology might be the driver of change, it is the constituents you serve who must embrace the new strategies that those technologies drive.


Tal Frankfurt (@TalFrankfurt) is Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, a certified B Corporation and an Inc.500 company, that works with organizations to create and implement strategic Salesforce solutions. While working as a spokesperson and director of resource development for a nonprofit organization, Tal was looking for tools to better manage his constituents (donors, volunteers, the media etc.). He heard about The Salesforce Foundation and this started a snowball effect. The rest, as they say, is history. He founded and led a Salesforce Nonprofit User Group and was exposed to the growing need for many nonprofits to integrate technology tools such as Salesforce to achieve their mission. Subsequently, Tal founded Cloud for Good, a consulting firm that works primarily with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Tal ​was chosen in 2010 to be one of the first Salesforce MVP Program members and has maintained that status to date. Watch a short video about Cloud for Good’s services.