volunteer services digital maturityAs we find ourselves more and more firmly rooted in the digital age, it makes sense to consider whether our volunteer services departments are keeping pace.

With rapidly evolving public preferences, there’s clearly increased stress on nonprofits to compete. Without a strategy that embraces technological evolutions, nonprofits risk losing the attention and engagement of their most vital supporters.

But, many volunteer services struggle to find a path forward.

The good news is that assessing the level of technology adoption by volunteer services departments is easier than ever.

Evolving Digital Maturity Models

In the past few years, there’s been some interesting thinking done around what’s called “digital maturity.”  In the private sector, powerhouse consulting firms like Deloitte have begun to develop models that describe levels of advancement in technology uptake across a range of business functions.

There’s debate over the terms “digital maturity” versus digital transformation,” but the experience may feel the same at the programmatic level — the world is moving rapidly, and volunteer services departments struggle to keep up.

Similarly, in the nonprofit sector the UK’s NVCO, in partnership with Breast Cancer Care, developed a tool to measure the digital maturity of third sector organizations in order to establish benchmarks for the field.

They’ve made the free online assessment tool available to nonprofits who want to check their own maturity level. The tool covers eight dimensions of nonprofit operations focused on technology — User Experience, Analytics, Technology, Audiences, Channels & Devices, Content, Campaigns, and Governance. In their report, they also compare outcomes in these areas withe the size of their digital team.

Microsoft has also shared their perspectives on nonprofit digital transformation and offers a digital self assessment worksheet nonprofits can use to gauge their current level of maturity.

Digital Maturity For Volunteer Services

As we’ve helped numerous organizations improve their volunteer services strategy — and made our transformative journey from a more conventional consulting practice at Tobi Johnson & Associates to primarily digital services delivered though VolunteerPro — we’ve experienced first hand how online tools can expand reach and impact.

And yet, many organizations have yet to invest in the tools that can make them more effective, perhaps because they can’t yet see a vision for the future.

The fist step toward transformation is understanding. To that end, I’ve develop a preliminary framework for understand the digital maturity of volunteer programs.  I hone in on eight domains (see below) of volunteer engagement where technology can play a decisive role in success.

Take a look and see where you have opportunities for growth.

Digital Maturity Matrix for Volunteer Services

volunteer services digital maturity

Although this is in no way a complete model, my hope is that we can being a conversation about a way forward.  What small, cost neutral steps can we take to increase our digital maturity today? What tools do we already have at our disposal?  And, where might we need to make strategic investments to boost our results?

I invite you to add your ideas and insights in the comments below. What’s missing? What needs to be expanded?  Let’s get the conversation started.

You’re Invited: Volunteer Management Progress Report — The Tech Edition

To contribute to a deeper understanding of how today’s volunteer organizations use technology, this year’s Volunteer Management Progress Report survey will focus, in part, on digital tools.

Our annual state-of-the-industry survey will open the first week in November, and we invite you to participate.

Everyone who completes the survey will be invited to an exclusive Early Results Webinar where we share a sneak peek of the survey results in January.  Be the first to learn how you compare on salary, satisfaction, and technology adoption.  Get more details on the survey here.