Josephine SinclairBalancing Donor Engagement and Financial Impact: How to Evaluate Your Spend on Donor Technology

By: Josephine Sinclair In: 2013 Fall Conference| Philanthropy

17 Sep 2013

Are you making technology harder than it needs to be?

If you are in an executive leadership position at a community foundation, the answer to this question is probably yes. Why is that? Why do we cringe, ever so slightly, when we hear the word? Technology often seems overwhelming and complicated. And much of the technology we need today is based in an online environment, which adds to our perception of its complexity. So we are sometimes tempted to delegate technology to the people on our teams who have more detailed expertise than we do.

But we have to start thinking differently.

Technology is everywhere, and in many ways it drives the success of our foundations. Consider the dictionary’s definition of “technology” as “a manner of accomplishing a task, especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.” That covers a lot of ground!

In today’s community foundations, the technology required to manage hundreds of donor accounts, thousands of grants to nonprofits, and millions of dollars is a very big deal. When you make a decision about your foundation’s software systems, your job is not to make—or delegate—a technology decision that is consistent with your foundation’s business strategy. Instead, your responsibility is to make a strategic business decision that involves technology. And there is a big difference. In the first case, you are assigning technology a status of non-mission critical. In the second case, you are recognizing today’s market reality that technology is absolutely mission critical. It is time to get comfortable making technology decisions, or at least embracing your role as a necessary and active participant in that decision. But how, exactly, do you justify the investment in technology?

Crown Philanthropic Solutions 2013 CEO Whitepaper Series has stirred increasing discussions recently regarding the overall impact of the “technology spend” within a foundation, and more critically: How to best evaluate the impact of - and return on, that investment.

During your trip to San Diego we invite you join us for a discussion around the impact of technology spend, lead by Laura Wells McKnight, former CEO of Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. During our Learning Lab, Five Top Insights into the ROI Debate: Balancing Donor Engagement and Financial Impact, you will learn 5 key measurements that our clients have reported are crucial to an accurate evaluation of technology. The discussion will highlight how breakthrough technology has transformed the way community foundations operate, and the experience they offer to their donors. Most importantly, you will hear real-life accounts on what has changed for these foundations for the better, and how even the smallest details in a robust technology platform can make a huge difference to your staff’s time and donor experience.

If you are interested in learning more, please join our session on Tuesday, September 24th from 2:45-3:15 pm.  You can also stop and visit Crown Philanthropic Solutions at booth #27. See you in San Diego!

Josephine Sinclair is the Marketing & Communications Director for Crown Philanthropic Solutions, LLC. To learn more about Crown and DonorFirst, visit

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