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The health of teams working on digital strategy, platforms, and tools at non-profits has long been an indicator of their adoption of or resistance to wider trends around innovation and impact.

Last fall we asked 80 advocacy-oriented nonprofits about the state of their digital teams and programs today. This is our third report on digital teams, this time co-authored with Austen Levihn-Coon, so we have been able to track trends over time.

The report revealed where digital teams now live, today’s key roles, shifts in team structures, how we’re (really) doing on engagement, sources of cross-departmental tensions, and how we develop digital leaders. We also asked about five emerging innovation frameworks and whether they are on the radars of advocacy orgs yet.

Key takeaways from the 2018 Digital Teams Report include:

  • When digital leads, we win. Having digital leaders on senior management teams and shaping new campaigns and initiatives is now proven to lead to more successful digital programs
  • Is engagement just a word? The vast majority of respondents don’t measure engagement and lack dedicated staff + budget to lead it, showing engagement is still more of a concept than a deeply valued reality
  • Distributed digital skills leads to better programs. We found teams with the highest performance digital programs are overwhelmingly using the hybrid team structure model
  • We still struggle with structure. Three-quarters of teams have been re-structured in the past 3 years, yet only 10% find their structure to be highly effective. That’s a lot of painful change leading to uncertain results

Offering an insight for each data point, the report also includes four recommendations for helping our organizations become more effective, adaptive, and indeed transformative by building better digital teams. The path to greater impact is clear, we just need to take it.

The report is now available for free download from our website.