In 2018, shifting tax policies and a stock market setback combined to stanch the lifeblood of the vast majority of nonprofit organizations: Charity giving declined 1.7% from year-earlier levels (accounting for inflation), according to GivingUSA.
With more than 1.5 million charitable entities targeting the donation pool, many are digging deeper into how nonprofit technology can extend the reach and sharpen the impact of their fundraising efforts.
Counter to some perceptions, tech savvy is on the rise
Admittedly, limited budgets and restricted donations can hamstring a nonprofit on the technology front. As such, Ed Gairdner, a leader with U.K.-based The Good Exchange, told Charity Times that tech engagement in the nonprofit sector trails the commercial world by 5-10 years.
Yet, among trends gaining traction in 2020, the Forbes Nonprofit Council sees growth in the adoption of nonprofit-focused networking platforms, rising integration of artificial intelligence, increasing use of blockchain by international organizations, and greater use of donations via texting.
Charities are not likely to lead a tech adoption wave. The ubiquity and accessibility of relevant innovations, however, will likely increasingly rise in importance for such organizations that must make the most of what they have.
Fundraising initiatives lead the way
Many nonprofits have already embraced technology in fundraising, where advances that ease giving and reduce obstacles to donating are invaluable.
For example, giving-by-text simplifies the process on mobile devices, online auction platforms aid fundraising events, and Giving Tuesday‘s web-based initiative has provided a spot for individuals to centralize their annual giving since 2012.
Keeping pace with broader developments, however, is essential for any nonprofit looking to stay attuned to its supporters. To that end, key issues identified in the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report from Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good that warrant watching include:
- High demand for shielding (93% of North Americans surveyed) and not sharing (83%) personal information
- Primary preference for email to receive solicitations (31%) and acknowledgments of gifts (68%)
- Of the 25% that prefer social media solicitations, 51% identified Facebook as the primary outlet for such interactions
- Appreciation for regular communication regarding the organization’s efforts and the impact of donations (56%)
- Considerable interest in recurring giving programs (46%)
Furthermore, the report says that generational differences with regard to technology’s role in giving are shrinking worldwide.
Separately, Nonprofit Tech for Good reports that smart speaker devices can facilitate two-way engagement, from processing an owner’s donation request to serving up audio content from the organization, such as bird calls from the Audubon Society.
Keeping the mission and vision rolling
Away from the public eye, nonprofits generally rely on tight budgets, passionate volunteers, and small, dedicated staffs. Furthermore, most juggle a patchwork blend of hardware, software, and services to keep programs in motion.
As the world grows more technologically sophisticated, however, an inadequate tech foundation can actually endanger an organization. To focus on critical issues, property casualty insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Agency suggests a nonprofit’s tech strategy emphasizes 5 key elements:
- Data security
- Mobile-first mindset
- Cloud resources
- Data analytics
- Sufficient budget
Built around visions and missions, nonprofits play an essential role in supporting challenged communities and individuals around the world. Increasingly, nonprofit technology is playing a larger role in optimizing fundraising efforts and streamlining operations to help ultimately fulfill such altruistic goals.