Focus On: Software: Are You Plugged In?
“Most people think of the Internet and online fundraising as the most significant change in the past three to five years,” Geiger says. “It’s still pretty small in the general scheme of things, if you look at the aggregate numbers, but it’s growing fast.”
On the cutting edge
Other areas where nonprofits can utilize technology include prospect identification, event management, grantmaking, membership management, planned giving, prospect research, trust accounting and just about every facet of development imaginable.
For a more comprehensive list of fundraising technologies, go to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Web site (www.afpnet.org) and check out the list of exhibitors from the recent conference in Seattle. (Click on International Conference, then on “Meet the Exhibitors.”)
Still, other technologies are more cutting edge and maybe not something an organization might consider without some prompting. For example, cMarket has developed an Internet auction platform specifically for the nonprofit fundraising market. And IATS Ticketmaster, a credit card-processing company, is helping nonprofits interact with people who use their credit cards to make donations.
The Massachusetts-based cMarket provides each subscribing nonprofit with a private online site at which to hold its auction. It eliminates geographic restrictions and allows the nonprofit to bring the auction to the attention of all its constituents via e-mail. It also acts as a marketing tool for companies that supply the items to be auctioned by featuring on the online auction site the name, logo and Web link of each donating company.
IATS Ticketmaster is designed to save nonprofits the time and money usually associated with clearing credit cards. It provides real-time processing for donations made through all five major cards, and eliminates the need for point-of-sale terminals and expensive payment gateways.
IATS already is built into many of the leading donor-management software packages.
Making sense of it all
While technology for nonprofits is a fast-growing industry, what might be growing even faster is the number of consulting companies geared to helping nonprofits choose the right technology solutions — Internet service, software and other adaptive strategies. These consultants are needed to help choose and use new technology and to help companies deal with subsequent changes in the way they do business.