By Fredrik Winsnes, Director, Center for the Digital Nonprofit
I spent 16 years working at Microsoft, focusing on bringing technology into emerging markets and sparking a lifelong passion for the transformational impact technology can have on just about any population. I’m a believer, having seen it firsthand. Now having spent the last 8 years at NetHope — helping to design and launch the Solution Center among many other projects — my passion for the power of digital transformation has grown exponentially. When I was asked to take on a broader role in driving the Center for the Digital Nonprofit into the future, I was more than ready to step up. When I look back at 2018, I can’t help but recognize what a pivotal year this was for The Center, having launched the Digital Nonprofit Abilities (DNA), the Digital Skills Framework for the Nonprofit (DSFW), the Digital Nonprofit Skills Assessment (DNS), and the DSFW Resource Center.
Shortly after the Center for the Digital Nonprofit announcement, we generated the Digital Nonprofit Abilities (DNA) Assessment. The assessment report allows organizations to compare themselves in key categories (Readiness, People, Process, Technology, Data, and Investment) against aggregate sector benchmarks and to start internal discussions on how to embark on their digital transformation journey. To date 36 NetHope member organizations have taken this assessment. The whitepaper reporting these results is available here.
To help members navigate their digital journey, NetHope partnered with Microsoft to create the Imagine, Design, Execute, and Assess™ (IDEA) framework, taking members through the D3 (Dream Design Deliver) process. Five members went through the dream stage in 2018 and are now embarking on their own design stage. Their dream books can be accessed in this article published late last year. With support from Microsoft and our consultancy/implementation partners (ADP, Avanade, Revel, and Wipfli) this year, another 10 NetHope members are embarking on their own IDEA/D3 journey!!
Published in October of 2017, the Digital Skills Framework is an organized way to guide you with what to know, learn, and do in order to better communicate, collaborate, solve complex problems, advocate and create new ways of doing good in a world where digital is abundant. Developed for NetHope, the DSFW is based on deep research into technology trends, existing frameworks, and digital skills needed for success, both now and in the future. There are six pillars within the framework: Technical Literacy, Highly Adaptive Collaboration, Complex Problem Solving, Digital Responsibility, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Creativity and Innovation. This framework serves as a guidepost for our skills initiative.
In the spring of 2018, NetHope partnered with Humentum to create an assessment measuring the digital skills in our respective member organization via the Digital Nonprofit Skills (DNS) Assessment. With over 330 responses from 49 different nonprofits, the results of this assessment were presented at the annual Humentum conference, the NetHope Global Summit, and reported in The Digital Nonprofit Skills™ Assessment white paper sponsored by the #ImpactCloud coalition.
While the DNS Assessment tool can measure and compare with established aggregated benchmark in each of the Digital Skills Framework skills categories, we wanted to provide our members with some tools and resources to start the process of understanding the underlying skills within the framework and to take steps within their own organizations to build those skills. This effort is a continual work in process, with more to come in 2019 as we actively solicit your input and review to make it even more relevant in the future.
Whew! It was a very busy year! But we are just beginning, as we have high aspirations and priorities for 2019, working to deliver on our promise of continued strong value to our members. A lot of great work has been done in The Center start up, and our priorities for this year are focused on peer to peer learning, automation, library expansion, circular feedback.
DNA: We have members that scored relatively high with the DNA assessments, and some members who scored relatively low. We are going to pair up members and hold learning sessions facilitating an open dialogue in learning from each other.
DSFW Resource Page: While we have some great, curated content available on the DSFW Resource Page, we heard loud and clear that our members want to learn from each other. We will be developing a set of best practices and blueprints supporting digital skills in action, and making that knowledge available through our resource page. We will also be soliciting member contributions to the learnings made available to all members.
Automation: We’ve had 36 members take the DNA assessment and 49 organizations take the DNS assessment. We are going to automate the feedback for our members to expedite the results and follow-up.
Library Expansion: We have good content on our DSFW Resource Page, and we are going to significantly expand that content, curating it in a way that is easy to consume. We are currently working with third parties, learning organizations, and will be adding to the richness of the library, while keeping it small and highly focused.
Circular Feedback: The heart of The Center is our members. Your feedback is critical to our direction, priorities and success. We are implementing multiple feedback loops – from our regular chapter meetings, working groups, online benefits and resources to ensure we focus on impacting the work happening on the ground revolutionizing the business of humanitarian response, development and conservation.
As you may have experienced at the 2018 NetHope Global Summit in Dublin, we have a fantastic set of partners who share our vision of digital transformation in the International NGO Sector: Microsoft, Okta, Blackbaud, Box, Oracle NetSuite, and Avanade. Without their support and shared vision, we would not be able to get off to the great start described above, and have a shared vision for our priorities in 2019!