4 min read

Top 9 Signs It’s Your Team, Not Your Tech

Non-profit leaders often come to me feeling like their organization is facing a myriad of tech problems. But without fail, when we take a closer look, what seems like a tech issue might actually be a human behavior or cultural challenge. As someone deeply invested in tech for nonprofits, I want to share the top signs that indicate that, like so many others, you're tackling the wrong issue and trying to fix a human issue with a tech-infused magic wand.

1. No Tech Driver Appointed

Who's in charge of your organization's tech? If there's hesitation or an inability to name someone, this is the first thing you’ll need to fix.  Having a clearly defined tech person will streamline everything else you’ll do in this area. Furthermore, check if the tech responsibilities are outlined in their job description, including the allocated time and budget. Each layer of accountability will have a positive impact on the overall health of your organization's tech infrastructure. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how important it is to openly value and communicate well with your driver, so that they’ll stay with your organization and continue to work toward its success. 


2. Protocols Not Being Followed

When people on your team don’t follow the protocols, it can have a serious impact on the success of your organization.  For example, let’s say you’re conducting a fundraiser, and feel like your donor tracking software is ineffective because people are slipping through the cracks. But as we take a closer look, we learn that someone on the team has met a high net-worth donor, but they didn’t enter that person into the donor tracking system, and nobody picked up on it–The donor slipped away, and a lot of potential money was lost.  In this case, it is clearly a human issue, not a tech issue. There has to be clear processes to follow and accountability for everyone involved in order for the software to be most effective.


3. Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

Have you ever noticed that nobody seems to complain about your system? It might sound like a dream scenario, but hold on. If there's a lack of feedback or complaints, it's not necessarily because everything is running smoothly. It could mean people have given up. Remember, complaining is a sign of hope. Encourage feedback within your organization, create an easy way for your team to provide feedback and requests, measure it, and use it frequently to identify areas for improvement.


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4. Onboarding Obscurity for New Team Members

When a new member joins your organization, how do you introduce them to your tools and processes? If there's no standardized way to do it, including who to contact for help and within what time frame, this is a major fly in the ointment. A well-structured onboarding process is crucial, ensuring everyone is on the same page and can navigate tech-related challenges efficiently. Let your team know explicitly where to go with questions, and give them a time frame. For example, “If you are doing ABC action, and it’s taking you longer than 10 minutes, please go to XYZ for help”.


5. Leaders Passing the Buck

Pay attention to how your leadership reacts to tech-related issues. If they wash their hands of it, claiming it's not their area, and they need an external expert, that's a problem. Imagine if they did the same with budgeting! They never wash their hands of the budget because they KNOW what they are doing and what the goal is for the budget.  Leaders need to understand and lead the organization's tech goals with the same confidence they have in other areas, but unfortunately, many do not really know what they’re trying to accomplish with tech. They’re just trying to get people to not complain, or to not spend money, or to get the board members off their backs. Outsourcing these issues to strategists can cost upwards of $30,000, but solving it in-house requires only a tenth of that, and takes MUCH less time than you might think.  We show organizations how to do this in just 17 hours per month, in total! 


6. Undefined Tech Goals and Objectives

Do you know what your organization is trying to achieve with technology? If the answer is a vague notion of reducing complaints or saving money, there's a problem. Define clear goals for your tech initiatives. Are you aiming for efficiency, innovation, or enhanced communication? Knowing your objectives is the first step in achieving digital success.


7. Dwindling Day-to-Day Tech Satisfaction

Ask your team members how they feel about your tech systems. Day over day, do you feel like they're getting a little better or a little worse? If the response isn't a resounding "yes," it's a sign of trouble–but not necessarily tech trouble. It is most likely a human issue that needs to be solved in order for the tech to work better. Tech should contribute to the overall well-being of your organization. Regularly assess the satisfaction levels and address concerns promptly to maintain a healthy digital environment.

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8. Lacking Confidence in Your Data

Can you confidently pull a report, print it, and hand it over to your board members without having to check it first? Or are you worried that it might be inaccurate/incomplete? And is that the case for all your data? Or just some of your data?  These questions are vital to ask yourself because if you find yourself having to go over reports for missing or incorrect data, this is a huge waste of time and energy.  Your tech is capable of keeping accurate records, and if the data isn’t accurate, then it is a human issue. Your team needs more support and accountability in using the tech to its full potential. And if this one rings true for you, you’ll love this article Did Bad Data Steer Your Nonprofit Wrong? Take the Right Steps to Trust It Again (thehumanstack.com).


9. Not Jumping On Board with AI

Is somebody on your team using AI? Hopefully, they are, or someone on your team is teaching them how to start using it. AI can complete a plethora of actions for you in a fraction of the time it takes for humans to complete. AI is NOT going away, so it’s time to fully embrace it.  AI can help your organization with automating processes, analyzing datasets for faster/more informed decision-making, creating personalized campaigns for more effective fundraising efforts, implementing chatbots for improved donor engagement, streamlining your evaluation process for real-time insights, language translation for enhanced accessibility and it can provide training and skill development so your staff and volunteers can provide a bigger impact within your organization.  Needless to say, if your team isn’t using AI, it’s time to move them from resistant to resilient and help them embrace some of these emerging technologies.  


Feeling uneasy after reading these signs? Don't worry; these problems can be fixed in short order. With the right framework in place, a leader can resolve these issues in just 1 hour per month, and the driver (your designated tech whiz) can turn these situations around in about 2 hours per week.

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I recommend taking our Digital Health Quiz—it's a quick six-question assessment that provides insights into your organization's digital health and gives you a breakdown of specific areas of focus for both your tech stack and your human stack. 

#FREE Digital Health Quiz


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Ready to take the next step?

 Book a call with me, and let's discuss how we can elevate your nonprofit's tech game. We're here to help you thrive in the digital landscape!

Remember, it's not just about fixing tech problems; it's about cultivating a healthy emotional culture for your nonprofit. Let's embark on this journey together!