It’s easy as an organization to bemoan what you don’t have — perhaps sufficient staff, technology resources, or budget. But at dPrism, we spend a lot of our time reminding organizations what they do have, and how they can best leverage the things that they can uniquely offer members, customers, and the marketplace.
Nonprofits don’t always realize the tremendous arsenal of investable assets they have — often surrounding content, data, and access to professionals.
Membership organizations in particular have the ear and the trust of top people in their field… and that’s a competitive advantage that no one can match.
When you combine that access and trove of content with digital infrastructure, you can create meaningful and even magical initiatives that can be game-changers in terms of your relationship with members and the industry at large.
Bring your advantages to bear
We’re working with one client with an extraordinary mission to increase the number of Black graduates going into the professional field that the organization represents.
They asked themselves how they could make the greatest impact to achieve that goal, and ended up realizing they actually had a huge collection of resources at their disposal.
To act on this, they created a program involving mentoring and support — built on top of knowledge and content assets that the organization already owned. They were able to create a curriculum from the knowledge they had spent years building, and are now deploying it to college students to help coach and develop them as future industry leaders.
It wasn’t easy, but it was made possible by the content archive the organization already had.
How to Reinvent Your Nonprofit for the New Digital World
Content goes beyond the basics
When we talk to professional associations about content, and the first things they think about are the magazines, the journals and the newsletters they publish. Those are great — but they’re not necessarily the biggest assets an organization has.
Membership associations have tacit content: the professional knowledge only those working in the field may hold, and outside organizations can’t easily reproduce.
Figuring out how to leverage that tacit content, the hidden knowledge that often doesn’t get expressed or shared — into classes or products or other opportunities — is a true point of competitive advantage.
Another way organizations can leverage their assets is to use their reputation to lure in partners who can assist in achieving goals related to their mission. Organizations today need to think creatively about how to live up to their stakeholders expectations regarding impact — and sometimes part of that creative thinking is bringing others on board to help put all the pieces together.
A trusted nonprofit “brand” has great value in the marketplace, and for-profit companies may well be eager to trade things of meaningful value for an opportunity to be associated with a quality partner. Together, multiple organizations can often do something that one alone cannot.
Filling in the missing capabilities
Leaders must know how to find what’s missing: Is it the right people, the right products and services, or the right technology? We don’t see “digital” as starting with the technology tools; we see the tools as a means to an end, to allow organizations to gain a greater connection with stakeholders, to effectively collect and analyze data and to achieve rigor in their thinking.
When pieces are missing, it’s necessary to work with organizations to figure out the best way to fill the gaps.
You need to use technology smartly, in ways that get you to your goals. For instance, say you want to be able to contribute content to the ongoing discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in your industry.
You don’t only need to create that content; you need the capability to get that content out into the world, delivered in an accessible way, quickly and easily.
The biggest point of leverage
It’s easy in this pandemic-affected world to forget that, for many nonprofits, the biggest point of leverage you have is that people continue to see you as convenors of individuals around a particular cause or industry.
When we talked to nonprofit leaders, they couldn’t have been clearer: “It’s never been more vital for associations to preserve their leadership position as convenors,” said one executive for a professional society. “It’s time to really think expansively about the communities you serve.”
Some of that convening should quite likely be in person, but much can be digital. And creating the infrastructure to help make that happen is another way that dPrism can help.
However you are looking to leverage your core assets, we have the expertise that can assist. And we’d love to tell you more.
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