The Secrets of Digital Leaders
Phil Meyers has more than 40 years of experience in the tech sector creating, launching, and leading tech companies that introduced breakthrough innovations. With nine successful exits and four IPOs, he is an expert in technology transformations.
Make Digital a Centerpiece of Your 2022 Plan
Digital is driving transformations in which we connect, transact, and build communities in virtually every sector of business. The simple fact is that cultural norms have evolved to the point where the way to a buyer’s (or donor’s) heart is no longer through personal persuasion, but through digital connections that provide valuable information exchanges and sustainable customer service advantages.
Consider the style of how today’s leaders interact with you—Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Peloton, and others. They don’t just use digital; they leverage it in every aspect of the customer experience. They are unique in their industries and they succeed because of it.
Yet, surprisingly, the nonprofit sector has been particularly slow to adopt digital. While in most industries digital dominates, in the nonprofit sector it accounts for only 13% of donation revenue.
Looking more closely at this, I’ve noticed that it’s not due to a desire by nonprofit leaders to not take advantage of it, but more because most leaders are pragmatists looking for a roadmap to follow.
The Secrets to Success in Digital Transformation
Turns out, you can access the roadmap by following the lead of other sectors. At the core of the roadmap are “four secrets” they all use to successfully navigate major
1. Turn your people into digital zealots.
Digital leaders make an organization-wide commitment to the shift, with executives fully on board and leading the charge. They sprinkle new additions to the staff with experts who recruit, hire, train, motivate, and manage teams to embrace digital. They transform donor experiences from limited hard asks for support into frequent, even daily interactions that inform donors on the impact and value of their cause. This can only happen when all oars are fully in the digital waters rowing in the same direction.
2. Build your strategy to be market driven.
Digital leaders know the difference between success and failure is outside, not inside, so they align their strategies accordingly; focusing on the donors and not their databases. One is a real, live, breathing advocate. The other is likely 50% out of date with names and email addresses. Digital leaders' strategies are, simply stated to be known and loved by the communities they attract. They live in them digitally and raise money through distributed networks of supporters. The best causes are the ones that have viral and social support. A digital strategy that cultivates this idea wins.
3. Tune your execution to make it a real-time engine.
Digital leaders create new processes and standards that operate continuously, not periodically. They use modern systems that enable dynamic, personalized interactions with the audiences they seek to cultivate as donors, and they are consistent in tying programs to a single, persuasive statement of value about their cause. Most importantly, they operate in real time. When opportunities (good or bad) emerge, they step up the same day, turning out communications that keep their organizations first and foremost in the minds of their supporters.
4. Finance your transformation for the long term.
Digital leaders don’t make finance an afterthought. They attack it with vigor and build plans to fund a long-term roadmap to transformation. Think years, not months. The No. 1 pitfall of nonprofits in general, and certainly in transformations of the magnitude of digital, is to have too short a window to implement a change successfully. Part of making an organization-wide commitment to the shift is making sure your operating plan has the resources to make it through the many dips and chasms that occur. More than one year is the right horizon. No more, no less.
People. Strategy. Execution. Financing. These are your four pillars of success.