Drupal: Extricating the Nonprofits from digital stagnation
Every nonprofit organization is established with some definite goals and objectives that it opts to achieve. But are the nonprofits able to achieve their set up goals without facing any challenges? Not really. In this highly competitive world, these organizations find themselves struggling in finding ways to turn their vision into reality. So, in a situation like this, digital innovation can be the savior for the nonprofits. Updating to the latest technology is the smartest step a nonprofit can take to justify its organization’s mission, also successfully accomplishing the expected results and outcomes. Therefore, in this article we will discover how Drupal can pave the way to greater success in a nonprofit organization.
The emerging need for nonprofit digital transformation
There are various angles to a digital transformation that it can be difficult for nonprofits that have been using similar IT systems for years. It is totally comprehensible to not know exactly where to start your digital transformation journey, or how each new technology will be beneficial to your organization. Therefore, these are the areas where your organization can be improved by adopting digital transformation.
Building a digital first donor funding strategy
Digital transformation helps in availing innovative user experiences that enable in meeting new digital expectations of the nonprofit organizations. Modern technology has entirely transformed the digital expectations for employees, donors and other beneficiaries. Digital interaction is made easy by the help of smart devices, mobile apps, social media, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and ecommerce that are majorly beneficial for these organizations. Online portals can be built for beneficiaries to contact the nonprofits, providing full transparency that would encourage the donors to contribute, making an easy access to organization services leading to trust building. Therefore, all these experiences bring a positive impact on the various fundraising programs conducted by the nonprofits to improve the user engagement and satisfaction.
Online strategies can be developed to enhance the donors’ participation and reach them on their preferred channels to let them witness a great experience with the nonprofit organizations.
There is an example, where Accenture helped a national microfinance organization on donor analytics by facilitating data capacities and advanced insights. The nonprofit gained various benefits like immediate visibility into donor demographics, improved funding behavior, lifetime value and many more.
Empowering employees by using digital tools
The COVID 19 brought a major transformation in the field of digital technology. There was a complete shift in the overall operation methods of the nonprofit organizations due to this pandemic. They started embracing new operating models, using the right digital tools and encouraging new ways of working to maximize performance. Along with the employees who endeavour to perform their work in the new environment, the beneficiaries should also learn to communicate with the organization in the new operating model. Some organizations tried making the digital tools easier for the beneficiaries to use and witness a seamless experience.
One significant thing the nonprofits can do is to provide the front-line-employees with the correct data and insights , as it will help in serving the stakeholders more efficiently, who overall support the movement of a nonprofit organization in various ways.
In the middle of the pandemic, the nonprofits receiving support from the profit earning organizations have taken a positive shift towards growth and development. Since some nonprofits fall behind in their digital capabilities, several technology companies have stepped in to provide free services for a limited time to get through this current crisis. The nonprofits have gained benefits from these corporate partnerships in many ways, huge marketing exposure, increased funding, shared resources and the capability to increase more volunteers.
Some nonprofits abstain from getting involved in such partnerships without realizing the positive impact which can be obtained from it. And one important thing to be aware of is the selection of the right partners to work with. Since changing digital providers might lead to various inefficiencies in the long-term. But by choosing the right partnerships, nonprofits can sustain their operations and succeed in attaining their work plan and targets.
Providing support with the emerging technologies
Adopting the emerging transformational technologies by the nonprofits proves to be one of the best decisions as it helps in meeting the growing digital expectations. Such technologies are listed below.
Augmented reality provides a live view of something in the real world. It basically blends the real world and virtual reality to improve the viewer’s insight of his or her surroundings. By adopting this technology, the nonprofits can gain many benefits. Firstly, it transports your organization’s constituents to the center of your cause. This helps in establishing a personal relationship between the organization and potential donors and volunteers, also building the necessary trust. For better understanding, a NPO, charity:water provides an example. In the December 2015 annual black tie fundraising banquet, by using augmented reality, the guests of the events were provided augmented reality headsets that virtually transported them to a small village in Ethiopia. They were taken through a week in the life of a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl through this technology, where they saw her family’s struggle for clean water firsthand. By watching such a heart-breaking story, the guests were so moved by the experience, that they ended up contributing a total amount of $2.4 million. This technology also provides viewers real-time information.
We will understand this technology by the help of an example. A nonprofit organization, Pencils and Promise aims at providing education to children by building schools in the rural communities of less developed countries like Nicaragua and Laos. It is difficult to convince donors and investors to contribute while the construction is still half-a-world away. If by any chance, they contribute, a part of the donations are automatically funnelled towards the travel costs. So, virtual reality can be a perfect solution for such a problem. By using this technology, a one minute-and-a-half film was shot and the organization could surprisingly, raise a sum total of $1.9 million.
Blockchain helps nonprofits in various ways. It provides full transparency regarding tracking the transfer of funds from the donor to the beneficiary, scrutinizing the usage of funds and the overall activities of the organization. It helps in trust building between the donor and the beneficiary by providing the clarity of the necessary tracks and services. It is found that some donors wish to remain unknown, they want to support the nonprofits without revealing their identity. The traditional funding method failed to provide that facility, while blockchain is able to maintain confidentiality by providing the digital wallets facility. The intermediaries like banks and payment services do not fit in the architecture of the blockchain technology, so it helps in reducing the administrative costs of the nonprofits and also helps in smooth transfer of funds to the beneficiaries. Also read, how blockchain is revolutionising the education sector and digital media sector.
Providing safe and secured user experience
You will not use technology, you don’t trust. Isn’t that obvious? So, this rule will be applicable for everyone, from volunteers and donors, to employees and beneficiaries. Though nonprofits come across cybersecurity attacks, recent studies revealed that nonprofits fall behind in adopting the robust policies and practices required to suitably secure their IT environments.
Here is an example: Between 2016, December and 2017 April, the UK’s privacy regulator publicly exposed and charged 11 large charities for failing to follow UK privacy rules with regard to usage of donor information.
Discovering new ways of working to secure your nonprofit’s future
It is understandable that nonprofits go through a lot of challenges in this highly competitive world, but they can take all these situations as an opportunity to be creative and grow tremendously. Some organizations surrender and fail to overcome these challenges and others courageously adopt innovative new business processes and technologies to succeed in their mission. This process of adoption can be termed as digital transformation. The nonprofits can have a better understanding of digital transformation by observing the transformation journey of the leading private sector companies. Some of the ways in which the nonprofits can thrive in the digital world is by building flexible and robust technology service platforms that can free themselves from maintaining high-priced infrastructure which requires important levels of man-power and expertise.
How can nonprofits kickstart their digital transformation journey
Now let us take a glimpse of how a digital transformation takes place. Here are 5 major steps you can follow to get started.
Establishing a common frame of reference. The first step is to build a common language and also frame a reference which all your stakeholders can look upto. The NGO Reference Model can be adopted and it will help you in visualizing the major connection points between process, people and technology in your organization.
Assessing your present approach to digital technology to recognise gaps and opportunities. It is advisable to assess your present approach to technology over the four necessary outcomes of nonprofit digital strategy as discussed above. You can get started by completing the Nonprofit Digital Strategy Assessment to recognize current gaps in your approach to digital technology, also prioritizing opportunities for development, and get insights about exactly what the next level of transformation will look like.
Building consensus by explaining how digital strategy will transform your impact. The successful digital transformation strategies need strong support from the senior leadership, since the digital transformation impacts every single role within the organization, therefore, everybody has a role to play. A transformational digital strategy can be formed by building consensus and obtaining support from program teams, middle management and senior leadership to enhance the culture of innovation at the workplace. The leaders will have to take responsibility in actively engaging the volunteers, employees, donors and the beneficiaries to contribute their part in the process of this transformation.
Identifying ways to increase your security in the cloud. The nonprofits can improve their security by adopting the right cloud platform without any huge upfront investment. It is important for both cybersecurity and data-protection compliance. In fact, a major necessity of most comprehensive data-protection laws that includes the EU Data Protection Directive and the GDPR, is that companies handling personal data should take organizational and technical steps to maintain the security of any personal data they gather or process. To know more, read about GDPR and CCPA.
Start your digital transformation. After building the agreement that digital transformation is required, you can follow the respective process of Dream, Design, Deliver to form a transformative strategy.
Dream. You can run a design thinking workshop to visualize the innovative scenario with your team.
Design. You need to align technology, process, and organizational change management plans into a time-phased common roadmap to deliver emphasized scenarios and impact.
Deliver. You need to execute process reengineering, technology solutions and organizational readiness, making sure that closed-loop measuring of learnings and impacts can be further utilized in the next stage of transformation.
Drupal: The first choice for non-profit organizations
Nonprofits need a platform that can simplify the donation procedure, build a secure site, share the organization’s mission through blogs, and set up online communication among the site organizers and visitors. Therefore, Drupal is the perfect CMS for a nonprofit website as it implements all types of functionality without any concerns. It further provides a wide range of exclusive features that meets all the expected standards of a nonprofit site. So, the below Drupal features prove that Drupal for nonprofits is the best choice.
The Drupal project is entirely open-source software. You can download it completely free of cost, then use, work or share it with someone else too. It is based on some principles like globalism, collaboration and innovation. It can be further distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). There are no licensing fees for Drupal.
The Drupal community always supports its users by answering their queries and concerns. That means, if you have a question, someone surely will have the answer, as it's a worldwide platform. The Drupal developers get access to the worldwide community experience.
Drupal’s in-built tools help in content creation, workflow and publishing, also letting the content creators to work on it easily without any concerns. Editorial workflows can be managed efficiently by permission and authentication available in this platform. The provision of previews gives the visibility of how the content will be displayed on a device before approving and publishing the content. It allows you to create content with a WYSIWYG editor. The facility of quickly tracking all revisions and changes are available, if you require to maintain a history of content changes. All the stages of content, from creating, reviewing, and publishing can be viewed, to help you manage your roles and actions. Drupal has an exclusive feature where you can create a structured content i.e. describe content elements, tag content based on any attributes, form suitable taxonomy for content so that it can be observed, used, reused if required in a manner that can enhance customer satisfaction.
Drupal gives you an opportunity to create the relevant content architecture using the Admin Interface or even do it programmatically. It provides you with unique mode tools and views, customizable menus that give a comfortable user experience, and create pathways to content across various devices.
Drupal CMS is free from all kinds of web security vulnerabilities and threats as it is completely safe and secure. Robust security is kept as a priority by Drupal. Drupal has a team of security experts that take care of all the security concerns with their well built coding standards and strict code review process. It also has a vast professional service provider security as they don’t want to take this important aspect, ‘security’ for granted.
The automated language translation of Drupal helps in reaching different audiences with localized content. Drupal specializes in building complex multilingual web applications and customized sites in various languages. Core modules in Drupal enable complete translation of every part of a site, content types and their specific fields, menus, users, blocks, taxonomy, comments and contact forms. It allows in recognizing the preferred language as per the user’s IP address, URL, browser settings, session and more. Read more about Drupal’s multilingual capabilities here.
Drupal provides a special feature of building websites that are accessible by people with disabilities. It makes sure that all its features conform with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines (W3C) guidelines: WCAG 2.0 and ATAG 2.0. Such a feature of accessibility is very important as it is able to accomplish one of the most desired objectives of serving all the citizens without any discrimination.
Drupal provides its users with an exclusive, personalized profile for every visitor such as using geolocation, browser history, behavior taxonomies and device type. You can get a customized experience that will help in tracking and reporting with A/B and multivariate testing, enhancing ROI through target marketing and also segmenting visitors over devices with an aim on the important user identity for your business goals and objectives.
Drupal helps in building responsive websites and creating web applications which can provide excellent visitor experiences. It provides responsive design best practices and assures your users receive the ultimate content experience every time, on each device. You will find two ways of building mobile web applications which work with Drupal - integrated with Drupal at the theme layer, or a standalone mobile web app that communicates with Drupal using web services. Although both the approaches will work for building mobile web applications, it will be much easier to begin with integrating the mobile web app into Drupal as a theme. To know more, read about mobile-first design approach and mobile apps like that of Flutter-powered delivered by Drupal.
Integrated Digital Tools and Applications
Drupal easily integrates with a broad ecosystem of digital marketing technology and other business applications that can help you choose the right set of tools today and also according to your comfort, flex with new tools tomorrow.
Strong Stack Foundation
The latest LAMP technology stack like Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP are the ones upon which Drupal lives since they meet the requirements of flexible, fast-moving agile organizations and brands that help in creating the next generation digital platforms.
One of the features Drupal provides is the content flexibility that allows an easy flow of content over websites, native apps, connected devices which can be displayed on third party sites and social networks. As, many CMSes seek to manage content in a back-end repository and move it to “front-end” templates that can provide an experience (mostly static). There is a facility to decouple the back and front ends, wherever it's necessary. Hence, Drupal content remains as reusable chunks, that is free from presentation, also ready for smooth delivery to websites and applications. Content becomes future proof as well. Due to Drupal’s presentation i.e. RESTful API and neutral content, the front end developers can come out of the restrictions, helping them build interactive websites and applications, according to their convenience. Tools like Angular, Node, Ember, Backbone, and others are available. You can obtain third-party content(eg. syndicators and aggregators) and make it available to any website, app or channel under this platform. Drupal’s content can be easily consumed by other websites and applications with the help of Drupal’s content-as-a-service capability. Also Drupal’s front end developers can smoothly design content like for example, separating back-end content from front-end presentation according to their conveniences.
Drupal helps you to choose the best hosting vendor that suits your needs, you can change hosting vendors whenever you want, and also select to host the website internally.
The Drupal upgrades are referred to as easy and reliable. The upgradating of Drupal 8 to 9 was simple, as said by the makers. By following a four step guide, you can prepare your present site’s functionality, also maintaining proper security standards of Drupal 9 by utilizing the Upgrade Status. With the help of Upgrade Status and Drupal Module Upgrader , the developers are allowed to make the upgrade themselves. And it also further helps you to recognize whether your modules and themes are competent enough for Drupal 8/9 and convert your custom code accordingly.
Drupal has various modules, themes and distributions to extend the functionalities.
Below are the examples of Drupal modules for non-profit:
According to ORCHID.org, ORCID is an open, non-profit, community-driven effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers.
It is a flexible donation system that helps you to engage your supporters in the fund-raising activities. The Campaign Kit module is compatible with Drupal 9. It allows:
To create standalone campaigns (donate toward a specific goal)
Let your supporters create peer-to-peer Campaigns; that will allow the end user to create a child campaign (with a URL different from the parent campaign) and the amount raised rolls up to the parent campaign.
To create excitement with team competitions.
The site can display a donor wall.
Availability of payment processors using the plug-in architecture.
There are many exclusive themes too that Drupal presents, like.
YG Charity | Bootstrap based Drupal 9 theme for NGO
The YG Charity is the most suitable drupal theme for NGO, charity and non-profit organizations. The features of this theme include:
Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 core
Causes and events sections
Charity Zymphones Theme
The Charity Zymphones theme is specifically designed for charity, nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), donation and fund-raising campaigns with exclusive features. You will find all the required features for a charity site with a complete responsive mobile-first layout. This theme perfectly fits in many displays and resolutions desktop screens, tablets, iPads, iPhones and small mobile devices. It is also compatible with Drupal 9.
There are various distribution options that Drupal has. Let’s now take a look at the Drupal distribution for nonprofits.
You can create digital spaces which allow your members to share with Open Social's out-of-the-box solution for your online community. International organizations around the world like The United Nations, Greenpeace, the European Commission, FIFA and many more use this distribution. With the help of this community engagement platform, the NGOs, governments and many organizations can connect to their members, volunteers and customers.
The Campaignion Starterkit is a Drupal Distribution for non-profits. It basically specializes in eCampaigning, online fundraising and also applies digital marketing best practices. It helps in:
Setting up online actions such as petitions, email protests or other landing pages with forms to capture leads.
Creating donation pages and allowing visitors to pay through paymill, stripe and direct debit.
Managing supporters in a CRM system (based on Redhen CRM, heavily customized)
Managing subscribers of your email list with third-party email marketing tools integrated.
Drupal Commons is a "community collaboration website in a box" built on Drupal. The following are the help which you receive from this distribution.
You can answer the question, “How do you get started?”
By downloading a nightly snapshot, you can take a test of the development version of Commons.
You can provide e feedback on documentation, and also make requests for additional documentation.
Finally, it helps to work on an issue in another project with the commonslove tag.
Open Outreach is an inexpensive and a quick way for nonprofits and community organizations to operate using Drupal with the web tools which they require for effective public engagement. It basically comprises the latest version of Drupal core and other modules and configures in advance the features frequently used by organizations such as events calendars, image and video handling, social media integration, and contact management. With this distribution, you can save a lot of time and money while building your non-profit websites.
Support and maintenance, hiring of developers, and partnering with digital agencies
There are various Drupal agencies you can go for. They try to provide quality services according to your requirements and choices. Here are the top 4 Drupal agencies in the global Drupal marketplace.
Hence, with the above features, Drupal nonprofit websites can be built according to your project's expectations and standards.
Taking you through some case studies that proves Drupal as the best option to opt for in order to build a secure and user-friendly website.
The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI)
The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) is a part of the project, Bookshare by Benetech. The council provides learning opportunities to those who struggle with visual impairment across the globe. It aims at providing accessibility for nearly 1.3 billion people worldwide. NCBI is actively working in their field but since they don’t have a website of their own, they are not able to let their constituents get access to their content in a digital format. Therefore, they wanted to share their materials easily in an online format to make people understand their vision and goals, and to make the site AAA compliant. After the large Bookshare platform was made available, NCBI could utilize the platform to partner with publishers in Ireland and share their materials. Availing strategy, design, front and back-end development of the platform in Drupal, Bookshare could be tailored to NCBI’s requirements and audiences to get access to reading. Now, by working with Kanopi, NCBI could provide excellent features like synchronized text and audio, searchable text and customizable font size and contrast to help visually impaired people with learning and literacy. NCBI finally has a AAA compliant site, with 800,000+ titles available to users. This was a big achievement for the team as they could manage to give such great accessibility to people around the globe with learning and education.
Drupal 8 Redesign for Non-profit, Synergos
Synergos, a global nonprofit, has been committed to systemic change solutions to fight against poverty for over 25 years. The Synergos team was ready to rebuild their website for better engagement with the donors and supporters. The project aimed at bringing optimum exposure and audience engagement to Synergos.org, enabling users to smoothly find and engage with content, creating simple ways for users to learn about Synergos’ mission, activities, increasing support in the form of donations and email subscriptions, services and the easy ways of getting involved with them. Drupal brought a huge transformation by providing a fresh approach to digital strategy, a new design, allowing to engage with new partners, making funding secure, strengthening services. Drupal provided Synergos some exceptional results like the bounce rate improved by 19%, pages/sessions increased by 27%, session duration increased by 63%, and finally page load time was enhanced by 52% on tablet devices and mobile. Synergos overall got a very customized platform that helped in enhancing the user engagement and increasing their audience as well.
Website Redesign in Drupal 8 Helps a Rockstar Nonprofit Get an Edge
Youth on Record empowers high school students, the ones who are underprivileged to prosper in their lives through the help of musical programs. It actively partners with local and national musicians, schools and treatment centers to provide them credit classes that are inspirational, engaging and culturally suitable for students. There was a problem with their website since it was unable to display the tangible impact of providing children access to get a learning experience from real artists and couldn’t support fundraising and event awareness endeavours. A new website information architecture, with an improved user experience and a responsive design was built on Drupal 8. There was a lot of content that Youth on Record had but it wasn’t well organized. So, along with choosing the right content, media too had to be well looked after or else it could lead to confusion. Here, Drupal 8 handled the situation by allowing an easy integration of external libraries. Therefore, it was pretty easy to include a library to handle execution of the Twitter API, that saved long working hours and cost, and also allowed Youth on Record’s content to be relevant. So, all the desired project’s outcomes were achieved such as the new Youth on Record website now acts both as a media center and resource for every aspect of the company. It enhanced fundraising, partnerships, more engagement of partner artists and followers. Drupal 8 provided a complete, future-proofed site that was launched on time within the planned budget and could also reach the client’s expectations.
A Reimagined Rainforest Alliance on Drupal 8
Reimagined Rainforest has developed a repository of well structured content to support their vision and mission. The content is majorly displayed in long form text, there is also a broad variety of metadata and assets related with every piece of content. One of the major goals of the new site was the availability of the provision to discover new content on the website through automatic selection of similar content navigated by the metadata of the content the user was observing. Also, RA had a future plan for advanced authorization and publishing workflows to allow stakeholders, who aren’t from the web team to play a part in the content lifecycle. So, Drupal 8 was chosen for this project. Firstly, the focus on structured data suits Rainforest Alliance’s requirement for movable and searchable content. Secondly, due to the integrations with Apache Solr permitted for a nuanced content relation engine. Also Solr was utilized to power the several search interfaces. Thirdly, Drupal possesses strong workflow tools for managing content. Although the tools weren’t ready for Drupal 8, when they built it, the Drupal team knew that the tools would be easy to integrate, once they are completely ready. Therefore, it was proved that Drupal was the best choice for the project’s immediate need, and Drupal 8 was successful in meeting the organization’s long-term goals and aspirations.
With the help of digital transformation, nonprofit organizations are able to enhance their impact on the society, reach their target audience and be prepared for any challenges that they might come across in the path of meeting their clear goals and objectives. In this digital transformation for nonprofits, Drupal plays a major role in turning their mission into reality, providing them the opportunity to work confidently in the field of technology and successfully help in achieving their work aspirations.
Maitreayee, a compassionate and whole hearted living writer, has been enjoying the journey of writing since her teenage from filling the pages of her diary to professional blogging. She shares the secret behind her inspiring writing pieces which is the quality of time spent with her plants and never-ending beautiful shades of the evening sky. Being a nature lover, she also aspires to do something effectual for the environment sustainability.