Research & Reports

2019 Digital Outlook: Knowing What We Don’t Know

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One of the biggest challenges from the 2019 Digital Outlook Report? Simply figuring out what your organization—and other staff members—are doing digitally and what your overall strategy is.

The 2019 Digital Outlook Report marks the fifth year that Care2, hjc, and NTEN have worked together to gather data from hundreds of staff members at nonprofit organizations around the world to reveal digital trends and uncover new challenges that many nonprofits face.

This year’s survey revealed nothing as much as the gaps in staff knowledge regarding their organizations’ digital plan. The survey uncovered that many staff members don’t know what other teams in their organization are doing digitally. Many aren’t privy to their organization’s overall digital strategy. Executives couldn’t answer questions about digital marketing tools, and fundraising staff couldn’t identify the structure of their marketing and communications teams (and vice versa!). And perhaps most concerning, some marketers weren’t sure how their own efforts were performing, especially when it came to ROI.

Some Interesting Key Points:

  • 44% of respondents are not embracing peer-to-peer fundraising or P2P.  There are myriad reasons that some organizations are not using P2P, but the survey shows the most evident reason is that the technology doesn't meet nonprofits' needs.
  • Of those utilizing P2P, 20 percent said they plan to change their P2P platform.
  • In an attempt to get some standard ROI metrics for how organizations are performing with Facebook, the survey received an overwhelming amount of “I don’t know” answers. The data that was received was incomplete and wildly inconsistent.
  • The survey showed that budgets for Facebook and Instagram marketing were anywhere from $0 to $100,000 annually.
  • Google Grants is still being underutilized. In fact, only 10 seemingly accurate answers to survey questions around Google Ads ROI were received.
  • 30.7 percent of respondents described their organization’s structure (including decision-making, processes, reporting) as poor or under average.
  • 43.2 percent indicated they do not know which lead generation strategies their organization will test in 2019.
  • Survey results indicated a serious lack of knowledge and satisfaction with digital tools.

How to Improve

The 2019 Report addresses these survey findings from a practical standpoint and provides insights and tips to help improve the knowledge gap.

The report suggests that organizations need to invest in the set-up and training of staff in analytics to help identify if the investment on a P2P platform has worthy revenue results. In addition, it recommends that organizations should invest in an audit of how they are utilizing Facebook and what they need to do to maximize results; Facebook has a lot of untapped potential for better results.

When it comes to improving organizational structure, the report identifies that staff not only need to be fluent in the technology they use, but also cooperative with each other.  Some suggested ideas to strengthen cross-team communication include:

  • holding regular cross-department meetings to help ensure that teams’ voices are consistent and complementary to the organization;
  • desk-swapping as an exercise to get organizations’ teams out of their comfort zone, foster relationships with colleagues on different teams and encourage more cooperation and creativity; and
  • shadowing colleagues to allow for real world experience and better cross-team integration.

The report also notes that it is important to assess the relationship between staff and the digital tools they are utilizing. Is it a good match? Does staff need something that operates differently?  It’s also imperative to consider if the technology the organization is using or thinking of implementing is going to serve the end users’ needs and capabilities.  In some cases, nonprofits may need to think outside the box to achieve satisfaction with the digital tools they use.

Budget Changes

Other findings this year looked at how much charities are spending on digital:

  • In 2019, budget constraints took over as the biggest challenge faced by digital marketers. Previous surveys from 2015-2018, showed that staff shortage was listed as the biggest challenge preventing digital advancement.
  • Across all 5 years, proving ROI internally remains a bigger challenge for larger organizations than for smaller ones.
  • In 2015, nearly 73 percent of respondents only had 10 – 20 percent of their marketing budget earmarked for digital strategies. In 2019, that number was much higher. Some organizations are spending 100 percent of their 2019 marketing budget on digital.

Learn more about the survey findings and read the full report here.

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