The Modern Digital Team: How to Build a Digital Program That Works

Twenty years into the web’s existence, we’ve reached a digital tipping point. Organizations need to reach their supporters through more channels (web, mobile, social, email), at higher frequencies, and with greater results than ever before. But many organizations are struggling to re-imagine their online communications, marketing, advocacy, and fundraising in a digital-first world.

We believe that nonprofits need capacity-building support for more than their programmatic work. They need help optimizing the people, processes, and structures that will make their digital strategy a success.

This session is organized around the question: How do you build a digital program that works? Part case study, part nonprofit management theory, part on-the-spot strategy workshop, this session is a behind-the-scenes exploration of what makes high-functioning digital strategies and teams actually tick. We will explore different organizational models for digital success, using real-world examples of those models in action.

Participants will walk away with tips and tricks they can use with their teams today, plus perspective on how to move to a model where digital teams can lead an organization’s communications strategy, rather than reactively implementing tactics in digital channels.

You’ll learn:

  • Strategies for building strong and effective digital teams based on your org’s size, strategy, and culture
  • How to hire the best digital talent and build distributed in-house expertise
  • How to cope when you’re the only digital person in your organization OR when you’re one of many digital folks scattered across different departments
  • When to supplement in-house staff capabilities with the right kinds of contractors and vendors
  • How to look at digital work holistically to give your supporters an integrated experience across channels
  • What questions to ask as you plot the next phase of your digital team’s evolution
  • How to sell the need for increasing digital capacity to your boss, senior executives, or board
  • How to integrate programmatic objectives with marketing goals for the web

Alice Hendricks


Jackson River, LLC
Alice is an accomplished executive with over 15 years of leadership and management experience helping nonprofit organizations resolve complex organizational and technological problems. Alice provides coaching, technology consulting, process design, change management and staffing strategy to some of the top leaders and pioneers in the nonprofit world. Alice is an expert in cause marketing, online fundraising, websites, social and mobile strategies, marketing automation, and brand empowerment for nonprofits. Alice’s work is informed by the latest in supporter and donor engagement strategies and tactics, the ever-changing landscape of technology and tools, and the diverse operational models of different types of nonprofits. She has particular expertise with leveraging the emotional intelligence and wisdom within nonprofits and takes a holistic approach to organizational change. Alice works with Jackson River clients on management consulting projects, building highly functional teams, choosing effective software, and designing processes for maximum efficiency. Prior to founding Jackson River, Alice was VP of Client Service at GetActive software, a Managing Partner at Kintera (both now Blackbaud).

Misty McLaughlin

Jackson River, LLC
Misty McLaughlin is a content strategist, an organizational coach, and a capacity-builder for all things digital. At Jackson River, she has midwifed nonprofits and NGOs of all shapes and sizes through critical times of change, from creating website ecosystems to crafting team structures and workflows that engage supporters and advance a cause. Prior to joining Jackson River, she spent 8 years founding and leading a user experience consulting practice at Convio, where she helped hundreds of organizations to better understand their audiences and create web presences targeted to their supporters’ needs. She has also lived on the inside of nonprofit digital teams as a content manager and digital strategist for several universities. Misty holds a Master's degree in Information Science, has chaired a tiny nonprofit board on a shoestring budget, and is also a writer, advocate for flexible work cultures, and mother to a young son.

Michelle Egan

Deputy Director, Marketing and Engagement

Natural Resources Defense Council
Michelle Egan leads teams to design highly engaging, multi-channel, cross-platform campaigns. At the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michelle oversees the work of a large communications team responsible for delivering creative and content across all of NRDC’s channels. She hires staff, builds internal capacity, and develops processes to move a large volume of work through the department – with award-winning outcomes. From prioritizing NRDC’s marketing opportunities to conducting effective campaign reviews, Michelle uses her background in design to help her staff creatively address all manner of digital challenges. Prior to NRDC, she headed creative for Hallmark Magazine and Hallmark Digital and ran her own design consultancy with clients such as Conde Nast and Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE). She has held appointments in Design and Digital Arts at New York University and the University of Kansas, serves on the Design Thinking Advisory Board at Kansas State University, and has won numerous awards for her creative vision and leadership.

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