Five Content Transformation Trends for Nonprofits

Box Employee

As Executive Director of, for the past fifteen months I’ve spoken with hundreds of nonprofits about digital transformation and content management. I’ve met orgs of all sizes, from small nonprofits like that are looking to hire their first staff member, to the World Bank Group, which employs over 25,000 global staff. I’ve hosted discussions in most corners of the world from Austin to Amsterdam.


My discussions always revolve around how content and knowledge flow inside and outside their organizations. We often start our conversation with how they approach innovation and digital transformation in general. Then, since Box specializes in enterprise content management, we discuss how they securely manage and collaborate on content with all their stakeholders within and outside their organization.


Here are the five content transformations that have been trending in my travels. Which of the five does your org resemble?


Moving content successfully to the cloud
Many orgs I meet have empowered users, saved money and secured their file assets by moving them from on-premises servers to the cloud. They’ve stopped storing as many e-mail attachments on their e-mail servers and replaced large file sending tools with links to content stored in the cloud. “At Oxfam for example, e-mail attachment has become a dirty word”, one of their senior executives told me recently. Stephanie Von Friedeburg, CIO of the World Bank, and her team recently saw the benefit of moving to the cloud come into focus when they fled an office in Kabul without servers and still had access to their files.


Controlling content sprawl and insecurity
I see more and more orgs continuing to encourage the use of productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs (which integrate well with Box), and then moving key assets into a centrally managed, shared and secure content layer (Box) after early draft stage. According to senior leadership at Grameen Foundation, they use many tools across departments when writing a grant, but as drafts get more final and are ready for routing review and sign-off, they’re added to Box. It’s great to see organizations meeting their users where they are while elevating their level of control and key asset retention. This is especially critical in high staff turn-over orgs— a common situation in the nonprofit world.


Streamlining internal collaboration and workflow on content
I’m starting to see all departments within nonprofits transforming the way they collaborate on their content. Development teams are collaborating on assets with comms colleagues and one another more actively than ever. Comms teams are collecting assets from the field like photos and videos and sharing them with development and program colleagues faster. Program teams are planning, mobilizing and onboarding resources and measuring their work in more collaborative ways. For example, Kiva fellows in the field visit their loan recipients and upload photos, videos and other content about them to Box. The assets collected are routed to folders owned by the right team members. At LIVESTRONG, members of the IT team collaborate heavily on Box to keep their IT strategy and roadmap on track.


Boosting external collaboration on content
Almost every org I’ve met relies heavily on their external stakeholders from board members to volunteers, press partners and donors for their success. We see orgs like Team Rubicon on-boarding and sharing important files with member volunteers, what they call their “Leadership Group.” For them, better collaboration on content means increased disaster readiness and faster disaster response mobilization which saves lives. Finally, I was inspired by a story shared by an IT leader at the Nature Conservancy. He mentioned that one of their comms leaders had created a secure and shared folder for each of her main press contacts. She’d streamlined collaboration dramatically with the external partners she constantly shared photo assets with in a matter of minutes without IT’s help. Program teams at the James Irvine foundation are sharing folders with their grantees.


Elevating productivity of key teams and systems
I’ve seen members of every department in nonprofits boost their personal productivity. Seeing nonprofit leaders accessing important files on their mobile devise is now a common occurrence. I’ve seen development leaders access and present donor pitches from Box on iPads on the go. I’ve seen many occasions when field workers have pulled up their content offline on the laptops in no or low bandwidth environments then sync it back up to the cloud when online. The integration between Microsoft Office tools (desktop or online) and Box is being adopted impressively. Finally, I’m seeing productivity gains for orgs who integrate Box into the other systems their users rely on. Vendors like Okta are bringing identity management and single sign-on into the cloud for nonprofits. This helps nonprofit professionals access all their new cloud tools easier. Finally, Box integrated into Salesforce puts donor data and files in one place for users boosting productivity. IT leadership at the James Irvine foundation has Box, Salesforce, Docusign and Netsuite all working together in a seamless "ecosystem".


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