The shift to digital

3 approaches to digital strategy for nonprofits

In part one of this 2-part series, we discussed some of the factors driving the shift to digital in nonprofit environments. In part two, we’ll cover some approaches as part of your digital strategy to respond to those factors in rapidly changing circumstances. Depending on your needs, these approaches represent small, medium and large interventions you can use to assess and address digital strategy challenges in your organization.

Small—PURE analysis

One approach that our CX team uses is PURE (Practical Usability Rating by Experts) which also identifies issues and areas for potential improvement. Why use PURE?

  • The PURE method is an analytic technique that identifies potential problems users may encounter with an interface. As PURE scores get higher, perceived confidence and task ease goes down.
  • PURE, like other analytic techniques, is not a substitute for usability testing. However, this is an especially optimal method for use when there are limitations to meeting face-to-face with actual users (i.e: budget constraints, time, and difficulty in finding participants during COVID-19.)
  • PURE scores tend to predict task-level ease generally well and have the added benefit of providing detailed interactions that tend to be more diagnostic.

PURE is a rating of usability that defines the cognitive effort required to complete tasks such as “donate now”. If members are not able to easily use a digital donation mechanism, then they can’t unlock the benefits of giving. PURE is a valuable tool as you shape your approach to digital strategy.

What are the PURE analysis ratings?

PURE is measured as Fine, Flail or Fail/Bail:


Easy to understand and perform, either because the process is relatively simple and the call to action is clear, or the interaction pattern is familiar.


Requires some cognitive effort to process and figure out but is doable for most users.

Fail / Bail

Very hard to understand for most people because it does not fit an expected or typical pattern, or it has multiple calls to action.

A PURE assessment can provide a relatively quick win that aligns with your organization’s ability to respond in rapidly shifting environments. Combined with a journey mapping workshop, these two tools are especially useful and resonant, and can be light lifts as organizations pivot to more comprehensive digital experiences.

Medium—Journey map

Another approach is a comprehensive review of a donor’s (or member’s) journey when interacting with your organization. A journey map helps to identify member touchpoints to provide insight on their customer experiences. For example, your organization may have an “easy” and “user-friendly” process for digital donations, but if your numbers aren’t increasing, then there could be an issue in the experience such as a seemingly benign broken link, which could actually be an essential aspect of closing out the donation transaction.

Journey maps are developed during inclusive processes with your team through a workshop that always yields areas of improvement for your donor/member base. If you understand your donors’ experience AND you know how easy your digital assets are to use, you’re on track to becoming a responsive enterprise.

Large—Responsive enterprise

Maybe you’ve been able to pivot your approach to digital strategy this time around. Odds are we won’t be facing another pandemic like this any time soon, but your organization may have learned a great lesson: yes, you can pivot with little planning, but are you now an agile organization and can you effectively respond to the next challenge? The answer is probably not, but your pandemic practice round has certainly increased your awareness and need to adopt a responsive mindset.

Truly responsive enterprises have an organizational agility mindset, an understanding of operational excellence, and a deep empathy for their customers (who may be external or may be employees). These three components create a series of feedback loops that allow responsive organizations to listen to the voice of the customer, rapidly prototype and develop new processes, programs and products to meet the needs of the customer, couched in change management and communications that keep the entire organization aligned, even through significant pivots.

None of this happens by accident, especially at scale. Being responsive is part of the organizational culture, crafted by leaders and embodied by everyone at the organization. For nonprofits and associations, especially when budgets for approaches to digital strategy are constrained, as they are currently, looking for small ways to learn as an organization through engagements like PURE technical analysis and journey mapping can be a good way to shape culture within the context of driving value and insight.

What’s next

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a more responsive organization, particularly during times of rapid change, please contact us to schedule a time to talk. Our team of consultants and professionals will be happy to share some perspective on your particular challenges and how we’ve supported other organizations in similar situations.