5 min read

What is Nonprofit Digital Culture in 2023?

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, especially in the nonprofit sector, organizations are increasingly realizing the importance of cultivating a healthy digital culture. But what exactly does it mean to have a healthy digital culture, and why is it crucial for the success of nonprofit organizations?

In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of a healthy digital culture and explore how it revolves around the mindset of individuals who embrace technology and utilize it effectively in their roles.

A healthy digital culture is characterized by an openness to engage with various digital tools, digital technologies, social media, and digital platforms, recognizing their significant value to daily tasks and responsibilities. The culture's overall digital maturity is a sum of the individuals within it - from those who actively lean away from technology to those who wholeheartedly embrace it. Digitally mature nonprofits understand the concept of digital maturity is vital in moving the culture forward.

With the internet becoming a hub for learning opportunities, online courses are enabling nonprofits to train their employees more efficiently. Digital technology and its consistent innovation have paved the way for more accessible and diversified communication methods. This has created a distributed workforce, changing how people communicate, form, and maintain relationships.


What is a healthy digital culture? 

A healthy digital culture fosters a mindset where individuals willingly embrace technology, share knowledge, and can utilize it effectively and efficiently in their roles.  In such a culture, people are open to engaging with various digital tools, platforms, and devices and recognize the immense value they bring to their daily tasks and responsibilities. 

A digital culture is based on the total of the people in the culture’s digital maturity. If the individuals in a culture are digitally immature, the company's digital culture will be immature, and vice versa.


What is digital maturity? 

If a digital culture’s health is determined by digital maturity, it’s important to know about digital maturity and how it works. At The Human Stack we’ve identified 5 groups people might fall into when it comes to their digital maturity. 

  1. Resistant - actively lean away from technology

  2. Reluctant - passively lean away from the technology 

  3. Comfortable - Technology is “just there”

  4. Engaged - lean into the technology but not obsessed

  5. Resilient - lean into the technology for its own sake and might be a little bit obsessed with the technology

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Moving Digital Maturity Forward

In order to move a digital culture forward toward the comfortable - resilient end of the spectrum, there are a couple of key strategies. 

Engaged users are your secret key to driving a digital culture - they have the tips and tricks to using the tech and the excitement to share with others but aren’t so obsessed they run the risk of isolating non-engaged users (as resilient users may do). Additionally, engaged users focus on how the tech makes their job easier and better - meaning that they will have exactly what users are looking for - actionable steps to making a job easier and better. 


Fostering a Healthy Digital Culture

Now that you understand the connection between digital maturity and digital culture, you might be wondering how to actually apply this unique insight. We will dig into the following four tips to help you foster a healthy digital culture:

  1. Create employee engagement
  2. Decrease change saturation to increase nonprofit digital culture
  3. Foster digital culture within each individual department
  4. Take the Digital Health Quiz


1. Create Employee Engagement

So here’s the first actionable tip: Host a lunch in which engaged users share their uses of technology. (Hint: make sure there’s food. Food fuels the human stack and fuels attendance!) This lunch will allow reluctant and resistant people to see an example of the ways in which technology is positively influencing their coworkers' workday and, hopefully, begin getting ideas for how the technology can improve their own workday.  

Let’s call our engaged user Kathy and our reluctant user Sarah. They are both employees at the same nonprofit. Sarah doesn’t necessarily think the new CRM is bad, but she’s worried she doesn’t know how to use it properly and feels overwhelmed by the new change. At this lunch, Sarah is able to hear how Kathy uses the system. Kathy shared at this lunch how she’s used the CRM to know the best way to reach out to a client - something Sarah was frustrated didn’t exist in the previous system. This makes Sarah finally feel excited about a feature of the new CRM and begins moving her toward the comfortable end of the spectrum. 

Additionally, Sarah now knows Kathy might be a resource to go to within their organization if she has questions about how to use the CRM properly. So, in one lunch, Sarah has both begun to feel excited about the new system and has learned about an internal resource she can go to if she feels overwhelmed. 


2. Decrease Change Saturation to Increase Nonprofit Digital Culture

Another factor that affects digital maturity, and by extension, digital culture, is change saturation. Change saturation is the point at which there has been so much disruption that people can’t handle it anymore. Exceeding the change saturation point can create digital immaturity. One good way to ensure a healthy digital culture is to have a good idea of what level of change people are able to handle in order not to exceed change saturation. Check out our blog post, User Expectations: Good Tech Fest 2023, for more on change saturation, change management, and how to foster a sense of belonging in an organization.

It’s important always to ensure that the changes you’re implementing are below the change saturation level, or you can create digital immaturity. When people are overwhelmed and have had their work disrupted, it’s tough to engage with technology in a healthy way. This leads to an unhealthy digital culture where people are burnt out, frustrated, and unwilling to engage with technology actively. 

Digital Guidance, our methodology, moves maturity (slowly and methodically) forward. Change Saturation does exactly the opposite, it moves digital maturity backwards quickly and chaotically.

Digital Guidance®, our methodology, moves maturity (slowly and methodically) forward. Change Saturation does exactly the opposite; it moves digital maturity backward quickly and chaotically.


3. Foster Digital Culture within each individual Department

Digital culture is not a singular entity confined to the top echelons of an organization; it's an amalgamation of the microcultures that thrive within individual departments. Particularly in nonprofits, where each team has distinct functions and dynamics, the digital culture is shaped by the collective harmony of these individual team cultures.

The mistake many organizations make is centralizing digital responsibilities, often relegating them to the IT department or a sole leadership position. In reality, every department, from marketing to HR to fundraising, is integral to the digital transformation journey. Each has its unique tools, platforms, and needs, but all should equally share the ownership of evolving their digital maturity. By doing so, they not only enhance their efficiency but also align with the broader digital objectives of the organization.

Our approach, Digital Guidance®, works by nurturing one department at a time. We guide each team along the digital maturity spectrum, aiming to achieve resilience. Once a team is synchronized in its digital approach, its culture becomes a beacon for the organization's overarching digital vision. Moreover, individuals within these teams, having honed their digital skills, emerge as champions, fostering digital maturity across other departments and creating a cohesive, organization-wide digital culture.


4. Take the Digital Health Quiz

We're really not just saying it for the sake of engagement - the Digital Health Quiz is an amazing place to start when it comes to analyzing the health of not just your current technology but also your digital culture. Before spending money on new tools, new technologies, or consulting, start by gauging where your system (and your culture!) currently is at. The Digital Health Quiz analyzes your current system in two ways: the tech stack and the human stack.

Focusing on improving the items and issues identified for the human stack in your Digital Health Quiz can be a great way to support and jumpstart digital transformation and foster a healthy digital culture at the same time!


Putting it all Together

In conclusion, a healthy digital culture is built on the willingness of individuals to adapt, embrace technology, and utilize it effectively. By understanding the dynamics of digital maturity, fostering employee engagement, managing change saturation, and ensuring organizational clarity, nonprofit organizations can confidently navigate the digital landscape, empowering and training their workforce and driving meaningful impact in their missions. Embracing a healthy digital culture is not only an essential aspect of staying relevant in today's digital age but also a catalyst for positive change and success in the nonprofit sector.


Digital Driver's Ed®

Go from tech-frustrated to tech-confident with our nonprofit self-guided video course, where we help transform how you think about nonprofit technology and create a real impact for your team and organization. You can learn all about culture and much more as part of our course Skill Zone 4: Drive Digital Culture.

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