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 Hendricks helps nonprofits find creative, people-oriented solutions to complex problems. Alice’s particular expertise lies in eliciting the emotional intelligence and wisdom within nonprofits to guide them through phases of transformation and positive change. She is CEO of Jackson River, a consulting and technology company which she founded in 2008, and which offers a Digital-First fundraising and marketing platform, Springboard (, for nonprofit organizations. When she's not helping organizations transform or being a mom, you can find Alice reading, cooking, or watching crime procedurals. You can reach Alice at or on Twitter at

Misty McLaughlin

Jackson River, LLC
Misty McLaughlin works with Jackson River’s progressive clients to help them build their capacity with all things digital. Equal parts nonprofit coach, content strategist, and UX architect, she has midwifed organizations through critical times of change, from creating website ecosystems to crafting team structures and processes to serve their cause. By night, she’s the mama of a young son, an advocate for flexible and remote work, a writer, and a resident of Portland, Maine. You can reach Misty at or on Twitter at @uxfornonprofits.

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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