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5 Strategies to Get Board Buy-In

Selling your tech recommendation doesn’t have to be challenging!

Here are some tips to present a winning recommendation.

5 Strategies to Get Board Buy-In

You’ve done the research. You’ve seen demos, shared your pain points with ten different vendors, haggled on price, and gotten buy-in from your team. You are ready for new fundraising software, and it is going to revolutionize your nonprofit.

Just as soon as your Board of Directors approves it.

A necessary (but often difficult) last step is taking vast and detailed information about your chosen technology solution and distilling it into points that will sell your board. While every nonprofit is unique – and every board is unique – we’ve developed a list of best-practice tips designed to give you the edge and help you communicate the selling points that will resonate with most boards.

5 Steps to Sell Your Board

1. Know the Problems.

If you propose a solution with the best advocacy solution in the world and your nonprofit doesn’t need advocacy software, you won’t get very far. Know what the significant problems are—is it siloed data? Poor customer service? Technology being sunset? Staff wasting time importing and exporting that siloed data?—and ensure technology is the right solution.

If your recommendation directly aligns with your nonprofit’s mission and your board’s core values, it will be an easier conversation.

Here’s a hint: before you even start shopping for new fundraising software, meet with your team and find out what their challenges are. If you can ask board members, you’ll be even more likely to accurately align the strengths of a system with existing challenges.

2. Create a Clear Financial Plan.

This doesn’t mean that cost is how you should evaluate fundraising software. Looking at the ROI of a system, or how much more money you can raise with a new system, is a much better indicator of whether or not it’s a wise decision.

But you ought to lay out the cost in detail as well. With any SaaS, there will be software costs. There can also be implementation costs broken out separately. There can be payment processing costs, and understanding the difference in payment processors will make you a more educated consumer.

Showing cost savings is important, and if there won’t be savings, explaining the long-term revenue value is something most board members will understand. Overall, show how an investment in this technology aligns with your nonprofit’s budget, financial, and fundraising goals.

3. Explain the Impact of Inaction.

For years, Mike Fisher was with Help Heal Veterans, a CharityEngine client. He tells us that his approach to the board was to appeal to logic and the consequences of inaction. The most valuable asset a nonprofit has is data (donors, supporters, volunteers, grantmakers, partners). If your database can’t send emails without logging into a third-party site or can’t centrally collect donations without the same, you’re not being efficient and you’re letting your nonprofit (and your mission) down.

Switching the angle, you can also paint the picture of what your nonprofit can do with a new system. Whether it’s seeing all your donor data in one place or having tools specifically built to manage volunteers and events, any upgraded system should also upgrade the outreach you can do.

4. Focus on Efficiency Metrics.

If anyone is a board expert, it’s Maryellen Gleason, who recently helped us with an article on getting board members to give. She counsels nonprofits to show the board the increased efficiency of a new system. For example, if your fundraising software offers predictive modeling, it isn’t hard to draw a direct line from that feature to more effective fundraising.

There are different types of efficiency metrics upgraded software can impact:

  • Fundraising efficiency measures the cost of raising funds compared to the funds raised. If a new software solution enables you to raise more money, the cost of raising those funds decreases. In particular, systems that offer peer-to-peer or text-to-give modules can increase funds raised at a very low cost.
  • Administrative efficiency measures expenses dedicated to administrative tasks. If your team automates previously manual tasks, such as batch acknowledgments of gifts or sending of tax receipts, you’ve saved money and time…two valuable resources. This increases your administrative efficiency.
  • Volunteer efficiency evaluates volunteer management, including recruitment, retention, and the value of volunteer contributions. If your proposed software solution offers volunteer management features, this metric will be improved.
  • Resource utilization efficiency measures how well your nonprofit leverages its resources, including technology, to achieve your mission. The more your technology does for you – the more it automates, the more it provides insights that directly impact fundraising, the more data points it can collect on your donors – the higher your resource utilization efficiency.

Using efficiency metrics to demonstrate the value of new software is a valuable strategy when presenting recommendations to a board.

5. Enlist Your Technology Partner.

Most of us in the fundraising-software-provider industry are invested in sharing the benefits of our solution with everyone at your nonprofit, including the board. It’s normal for us to be asked to present our solution to a nonprofit board; don’t be hesitant to ask for that.

Most vendors will offer a sandbox. This lets you and your board experience the software before committing to a contract. Create a donor record or check out the donor dashboards to see the information you can quickly access. Getting into the software is often the most persuasive move when you’re trying to present your recommendation in the best light.

If you can engage with board members earlier in the process, get their feedback, concerns, and objections. Share them with the vendor of your selected technology and get the correct and most compelling answers.

Get some data points around customer service. We often hear that a lack of attention after the contract is signed can make life pretty difficult for nonprofits. Ensure you have a partner that answers your questions and provides training and support in many ways. As nonprofit technology shops are gobbled up by banks and merged, feeling confident you have top-notch, personalized customer service can be an unexpected selling point.

Always Communicate Value

No matter which aspect of the software you’re most excited about, always go back to value. It might cost more or it might cost less, but focus on the value the new solution will provide.

For example, knowing more about your donors might allow you to personalize communications and engage more deeply. A system with advanced fraud protection might save your nonprofit quite a bit of money. Technology that automates most daily tasks, or one that integrates AI to save time, or one that has specialized modules that align with your planned campaigns (or inspire you to plan some new ones) will offer savings in both cost and resources.

Your board is there to provide foresight, oversight, and insight. They’re not there to shoot down your suggestions or push personal agendas; their job is to ensure your recommendations fit the overall picture and goal of the nonprofit.

We often say that we power the good to be great, and that should be the goal of everyone connected to your nonprofit. If you're looking for a partner that will be passionate about helping you be great, book a demo. We'd love to chat with you!