Nonprofits Can Digitally Mature More Easily Than They Might Think

By taking an agile approach to digital transformation, nonprofit organizations can let go of systems that hold them back and embrace a platform that propels them forward. With Workday Launch Express, nonprofits can reach digital maturity faster and easier.

For years, nonprofit organizations have seen the need for their services to soar. More than 3 in 5 nonprofits say demand for social care services increased substantially, according to a 2022 survey. And in a 2023 survey, 68% of nonprofits report increased demand. Yet even as nonprofits strain and strive to keep pace with their clients’ rising needs, those efforts are impeded by something within the organization itself: outdated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. 

Understandably, nonprofits want to devote as much of their limited resources as possible to their missions, not their operations. Many have functioned under the assumption that technology that’s just OK is OK enough. Piecemeal point solutions are often patchworked onto outdated legacy systems, creating complex workarounds that require business processes to fit within the tech stack’s limitations. As a result, rather than having ERP systems that work for them, nonprofits too often have had to work for their systems.

But growing demand amid intensifying competition for funds has made clear that outdated, on-premise systems hinder the organization’s ability to adapt and evolve. According to a 2022 Workday study, 51% of nonprofits are concerned that their ERP systems lack the flexibility to meet the business needs of today and the future.

In other words, an investment in a modern enterprise platform isn’t extraneous to nonprofits’ mission—it helps enable their mission.

Why Digital Transformation Matters for the Nonprofit World

The research bears out the urgent importance of digital transformation for nonprofits. Digitally mature nonprofits are four times more likely than their peers to achieve their mission goals and two times more likely to see improvement in operational efficiencies, according to a global survey by Salesforce and independent research firm Reputation Leaders Ltd. And while only 12% of nonprofits consider their organizations digitally mature, nearly 75% view digital transformation as essential, the Salesforce survey found.

Digitally mature nonprofits are 3.5 times more likely to have highly motivated employees and 1.3 times more likely to report lower levels of employee burnout.

Too often, only a handful of people at nonprofits know how to run their legacy systems. And that can create problems when those people leave—no small concern when 78% of nonprofits are trying to fill staff vacancies, according to FORVIS. When they don’t invest in a modern enterprise management platform, nonprofits may be saving financial resources in the short term, but only by placing an extra burden on their human resources in the near and long term. According to the Salesforce survey, digitally mature nonprofits are 3.5 times more likely to have highly motivated employees and 1.3 times more likely to report lower levels of employee burnout.

How Nonprofits Can Turbocharge Digital Maturity

Many nonprofits are realizing that yesterday’s enterprise tech cannot meet today’s operational needs. Still, for nonprofits with finite resources, the very idea of digital transformation can seem overwhelming. Nonprofit leaders might feel they don’t know where or how even to begin. They might hear the term “digital transformation” and assume such an endeavor would take time and resources they cannot spare. They might assume they have to add staffers to their small, overburdened IT teams or bring on consultants to implement years-long deployments and then manage the new systems.

It’s time to rethink those assumptions. Even for nonprofits long accustomed to doing more with less, digital transformation can be accessible and achievable. Nonprofits now can modernize and optimize their digital backbone with Workday Launch Express, which enables organizations to deploy Workday’s full enterprise management cloud platform faster and easier.

Nonprofits don’t have to devote their own limited resources to building a solution—or hire more employees and consultants to do so. Instead, with Workday Launch Express, organizations get a best-in-class, out-of-the-box platform with human capital management and financial management, a preconfigured solution based on successful past deployments.

Enterprise Management Cloud Bolsters Agility

Rather than spending precious months or, worse, years designing a solution before it’s even launched, nonprofits can go live with the full platform in just 20 weeks. They can achieve this by taking an agile approach that enables them to deploy and fine-tune the solution as quickly as possible—without having to recruit and hire a large IT team. Along the way, nonprofit employees gain in-demand skills working with leading-edge enterprise technology, bolstering retention and satisfaction.

According to a 2022 Workday study, 51% of nonprofits are concerned that their ERP systems lack the flexibility to meet the business needs of today and the future.

Nonprofits don’t have to worry about spending days or weeks going through all their existing business processes and deciding what to keep and what to change for the new system. They also don’t have to spend time trying to get the new system to fit their old business processes that often were developed to serve outdated systems. Instead of lifting their existing processes and shifting them to the new system, nonprofits can take advantage of the streamlined enterprise management cloud system, such as for hiring and promoting employees, for instance.

And these organizations aren’t simply left on their own after the launch date. In addition to 12 weeks of Workday support as they learn and test the new system, they also participate in Workday Explore, a community where peers learn from each other and receive expert support. 

Digital maturity shouldn’t be something that only large commercial businesses can enjoy. Nonprofits also can and should benefit from it—which ultimately helps them serve their clients, communities, and missions better. When they can reap the benefits of a future-ready system, nonprofits no longer have to keep channeling time and money into maintaining their legacy systems. They can put those resources toward their real goal of helping make the world a better place.

For more information or to determine if Launch Express is the right choice for your organization, contact your Workday sales representative. Or to learn more about how Workday helps nonprofits build a sustainable future, visit our website.

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