In conversation with Jeffrey Appell, CEO of Heller Consulting, shares his resolution for nonprofits in 2024 and looks towards the decade ahead.

At MISSION CRM, we work closely with the nonprofit technology experts at Heller Consulting to provide nonprofits with solutions to their unique challenges.

Watch the webinar we hosted with them discussing the benefits of Moving on From Raiser’s Edge.

Q: A new year is a great time to hit the refresh button. Share some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for nonprofits for 2024.

A: As we usher in 2024, nonprofits can really shift away from being reactive to being proactive. The acceleration of digital adoption during the pandemic was, in many ways, a necessity for remote work and keeping mission work going digitally. Now, there is still uncertainty in the world, in the economy, and with funding in the nonprofit sector. The uncertainty won’t necessarily go away, so nonprofits should aim to align future technology investments with their overall strategic goals. A resolution for nonprofits in 2024 would be: take stock of how you transformed during the pandemic, assess the reality you’re in right now, and take a strategic approach to adopting new technologies. If you go in with a proactive strategy that aligns with your nonprofit’s goals, you can use it as a guiding compass through any uncertainty.

Q: Let’s look 10 years backwards and forwards from 2024. What have been the most significant innovations/improvements in nonprofit technology over the past decade? And looking ahead, what do you foresee?

A: Reflecting on the past decade, the nonprofit sector has witnessed profound technological shifts. The most notable has been the widespread adoption of cloud-based CRM solutions, fundamentally altering how organizations operate. This innovation broke down silos and empowered nonprofits with a comprehensive view of their constituencies. The flexibility of these platforms allowed for greater customization and adaptability, especially during times of rapid change.

Looking ahead to the next decade, the conversation is already evolving towards AI, data governance, and the strategic use of technology. We’re seeing organizations prioritize data strategy and thinking creatively about how they use data to create better experiences for their donors. If you want to leverage the latest tools like AI, your data must be usable. You need to know what data you have, how you’re collecting it, and the stories your data is telling you.

Q: We’re in the thick of fundraising season right now. Describe the intersection between revenue and technology and how this connection drives technology assessments and decision-making.

A: Fundraising, especially in the current season, is intricately tied to the intersection of revenue and technology. Platform based technology options allow nonprofits to have a much better picture of their entire constituency. A member of a development team could now use a tool to see if a major donor volunteered last month or if mass marketing emails are influencing overall funds raised. There is a greater connection now between the nonprofit and the donor. New technology has paved the way for that connection. Nonprofits can use technology now to demonstrate an understanding of constituents’ values, and craft engagement strategies that resonate.

Q: Share one idea from the for profit sector which you believe would benefit the nonprofit sector.

A: Nonprofits can often benefit immensely by fully leveraging existing technology before venturing into new investments. Especially, organizations that have already made significant investments in platform or contemporary solutions. Often, organizations are quick to explore new tools without tapping into the full potential of their current solutions. Sometimes a new solution is the right choice. Sometimes it’s not. This again comes back to strategy. We advise our clients to align technology adoption with their overall organizational goals. When you’re assessing new technology, look to see if it addresses the greatest gaps in your current systems. If you prioritize strategic utilization and assessment over constant adoption of new tools, nonprofits can achieve a more efficient and impactful ecosystem of technology tools.

Q: What typically is a trigger or catalyst for an organization to seek out and partner with Heller Consulting?

A: I believe there are more technology options out there today than at any other time in my career. And Microsoft entering the nonprofit space in a meaningful way has shaken up the options even more. Organizations often approach Heller Consulting to be a partner through assessing and implementing new technology. In this landscape where there seems to be endless options, having a consultant with hands-on experience becomes essential. The team at Heller helps clients identify the best-fit platform, products, or solutions. We have a deep understanding of the market, and we tailor our approach based on the unique needs of each client. We strive to become that trusted partner in our clients’ corners, and we usher them through projects that align with their budgets and objectives.