Where is your giving technology taking you?

Paul Crickmore, test pilot for the SR-71 (the world’s fastest jet), once noted that “you’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.”

That observation should be a beacon to anyone working with technology – in the right hands and with the right plan of action, technology gets you where you want to go in a hurry. But in the wrong hands, with the wrong plan … well, you get the picture.

The world of Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – is no different. A little more than fifteen years ago, online giving technology made its arrival. This was followed in quick succession by online matching gift programs, annual employee campaigns, and volunteering. Now we have crowd funding, mobile giving, and other new and innovative ways to give.

Early innovators creating all this technology came and went, but the commitments to easier access, more transparency, better donor experiences, and especially greater impact have defined the CSR industry ever since.

Good Done Great Crowdfunding

Getting lost at Mach 3

Many early observers of the CSR evolution had high hopes that technology would be the ultimate catalyst for the growth and success of our corporate giving programs. After all, not only would technology bring efficiency, access, transparency and more to the charitable giving experience, but it would also help introduce a whole new generation of donors to charity. Sounded great, right?

After years of studying the automation of these programs, however, I have reached the conclusion that technology has had mixed results for charitable giving in general, and CSR in particular.

Why?

Because you’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.

In other words, in the process of building so many new online giving systems, many technologists have focused on process and not experience. Replacement of paper forms, workflow automation, and maybe email. As a result, too much technology has removed the two most important ingredients to CSR and corporate giving success: leadership and marketing.

Without leadership and good communication, your CSR programs are lost at Mach 3 without a landing strip in sight.

[pullquote]Without leadership and good communication, your CSR programs are lost at Mach 3 without a landing strip in sight.[/pullquote]

Are you lost?

How about your organization?

Did you automate the marketing and leadership right out of your giving programs?

Worse yet, have you split up your CSR world among so many vendors that you can’t even produce a clear picture of your CSR impact?

If you’re unsure how to tell, then take the 7 question CSR Wilderness Check:

1. How many vendors are you using to support your CSR program offering?

2. Have you changed vendors more than once in the past six years… and you still are not happy? CSR Good Done Great

3. When you engaged your most recent new vendor, did you map your desired CSR impact to a CSR strategy, then strategy to program guidelines, then guidelines to software system workflows? Did anybody even try?

4. Is your CSR strategy in line with both your corporate culture and other related corporate goals?

5. What is your CSR marketing budget? And does it primarily depend on employee volunteers?

6. Which is more important to your CSR program success – email or social media?

7. Is leadership provided from the C-suite?

If you are struggling with answers to any of these questions, then your CSR programs may be lost.

What to do…

For starters, don’t worry. Lots of CSR programs get lost. From a lack of leadership and no marketing or communications budget, to too much reliance on bad technology, CSR programs everywhere are getting lost.

We can help. Think of Good Done Great as your guide out of the wilderness. Four steps:

1. Find the peers, partners and consultants with the industry experience and problem-solving skills to help. They can help you set the right course and at the right speed so you don’t get lost again.

2. Next, make sure your vendors are service-first. Nothing will cause technology problems faster than someone who is just a technology vendor. Why? Because they only know their technology, and their company is organized around selling their specific set of features and functions, not helping you deliver program success and community impact.

3. Then determine the data that you need to ensure program success. Only through data and analysis can you know if your programs are meeting their goals.

4. Finally, find the technology that gets you the data that you need. Notice that we mention technology last and not first. Imagine if a pilot hopped into that SR-71 without a goal to reach, without training, and without a course to follow… lost at Mach 3.

Good Done Great CSR Strategy

Conclusion

Your CSR technology platform should do many things. It should engage your employees while demonstrating the positive impact that your entire organization is having on the communities in which you live and work. Your CSR technology should utilize the best in communication and marketing techniques. And it should be conduit for company leadership and brand presence to connect with all stakeholders – from employees to charities to community.

Technology is great when it does what we want it to do. But all too often technology creates problems, puts up barriers to success, or just leaves us confused, in the dark, lost.

If you are not getting the results you expected from your CSR programs, then stop and re-evaluate. The problem could be a disconnect between your CSR goals and your giving program guidelines, or a disconnect between your guidelines and the data you are collecting. Or your problem might be the inability of your CSR technology to support your CSR goals, giving guidelines and necessary data collection.

The bottom line is this: you need to know where your technology is taking you. If we can help, let us know.