Course: Becoming a Digital-First Organization

digital first organization two nonprofit tech workers

Twenty years into the web’s lifetime, we’ve reached a digital tipping point. Nonprofits need to reach their supporters through more channels (web, mobile, social, email, direct mail), at higher frequencies, and with better results than ever before. Organizations need capacity-building support for re-imagining their online communications, marketing, advocacy, and fundraising in a digital-first world.

Becoming a digital-first organization offers the chance to make a bigger impact on your most valuable resource – your supporters – and almost always leads to higher ROI. However, it’s challenging to make the transformation to digital-first without breaking the old models of how nonprofits are organized: who sits where, does what, and reports to whom.

This course focuses on how to optimize the people, processes, and structures that facilitate digital success. We begin with the question: How do you build a digital program that works? We explore different organizational models for digital success, using real-world examples of those models in action, and practice adapting those models to organizations of different sizes, causes, and cultures. Incorporating case studies, nonprofit management theory and a strategy workshop, the course will cover what makes high-functioning digital teams  tick. Participants will learn strategies 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 implementing tactics in digital channels in reaction to events.

A week-long course that takes place in our Online Training Center.

Participants complete pre-readings, answer knowledge check questions, attend an online training, and receive feedback directly from faculty on a homework assignment.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Evaluate an organization’s current digital capacity against its strategic goals.
  2. Map a digital ecosystem and other communications vectors. Differentiate structures for accomplishing digital work and determine which model(s) might work best for their current organization.
  3. Create a plan for transitioning an organization to digital-first ways of working, including staffing, hiring, and staff development goals; an organization chart; and key steps to accomplish a digital transformation.


Professional Credential Units
In addition to our own Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate NTEN is an approved provider for a number of other professional credentials programs. This course qualifies for the following credits.

NTEN Professional Certificate 1  |  CFRE 3   |   CAE 1.5

Speaker: Alice Hendricks
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
Speaker: Misty McLaughlin
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.