When in doubt, don’t build it

I have been pretty tied up with other projects the past couple of weeks, and haven’t posted an update on a product/platform I blogged about building a month or two ago. In short, I killed the idea of building it.

Shortly after I wrote that blog post, I read the book the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Eric Ries idea of doing product testing before making any significant investment in building technology resonated with me. I wasn’t doing this full time, so it would have been a colossal waste of time if I were to built it and no one used it.

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Adopting a New Approach to Nonprofit Technology

It is generally understood that nonprofit technology is 5 years behind industry, but that gap is quickly diminishing.  Lack of sufficient funding prevented nonprofits from purchasing enterprise-level software in the past, but the lower costs of SaaS products and philanthropic efforts of major technology companies has lowered the barrier to entry for any sized organization. Though most technology platforms available to nonprofits perpetuate this concept that organizations should be doing online advocacy, there are also a number of new nonprofit technology vendors sprouting up that offer tools that allow for more than just creating online forms and sending emails. Most organizations now have access to the technology they need to support their programs and build integrated technology infrastructures that span their organization.

The gap between the sophistication of technology use within the corporate and social sectors is diminishing, but the gap still remains in the mindset that comes along with that. There is a big movement within corporations to adapt their business models to the digital times. More and more brands are building digital experiences that facilitate their interaction with consumers, from both an engagement and transactional standpoint. While fun Facebook apps are great ways to build your brand, apps that facilitate business functions are what build meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers. Apps like HBO GO and Domino’s Pizza mobile apps are perfect examples of how brands have grown their business by recognizing that today’s consumers are constantly plugged in and companies should be doing business with them where they are.

Nonprofits should take note of this growing trend and adapt the way their organizations operate to changing consumer behaviors. There are great examples of how organizations are building products and platforms for social change; tools that allow them to deliver services directly to their constituents or solve some aspect of the social issue(s) they are trying to address.

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