10 Tech Innovations That Will Revolutionize the Sector
The nonprofit technology landscape moves so quickly, it’s hard to keep up.
Technology in the nonprofit space means more than simply posting on Facebook or getting set up with the best CRM.
When used wisely and strategically, nonprofit technology can often mean better and more efficient ways to raise money, to build relationships with your community and to accomplish your mission.
Nonprofits of all sizes are using technology for:
- Marketing – to cast a wide net and engage more potential supporters.
- Fundraising – to deepen and build relationships with donors.
- Mission – to enhance programs and deliver more impact.
- Measurement – to analyze and inform decision-making and resource allocation.
According to the "2017 Digital Outlook Report":
- Nonprofits will be prioritizing website/conversion optimization (71 percent) and video (78 percent) in the coming year.
- The three biggest challenges faced by organizations with regard to building new and more advanced digital strategies include staff shortage (73 percent), budget restraints (64 percent) and lack of training (50 percent).
- Crowdfunding (31 percent), social listening (27 percent) and mobile payment systems (19 percent) are on the horizon, as nonprofits aim to explore theses tools and more this year.
At the NonProfit PRO Leadership Conference, I walked attendees through the current #nptech landscape and highlighted the 10 most promising trends. Attendees were then asked to submit their vote for the technology that had the biggest potential to revolutionize the sector.
Here are my top 10 tech innovations that you can start using today that have the possibility to revolutionize the sector, in the order voted upon by the conference attendees.
And the winner is…
Near Field Communications
By far, the possibilities inherent in near field communications (NFC) capture the imagination of the conference attendees. Nonprofits should take note!
This revolutionary technology enables two electronic devices—one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone—to establish communication by bringing them within 4 cm (1.6 in) of each other (Wikipedia).
While widely used in the U.K. and Europe, NFC has yet to take off in the U.S. Animal charity Blue Cross has started to fundraise using dogs that wear coats with NFC to handle contactless donations from mobile phones in the field. Cancer Research UK is introducing contactless giving at four of its charity shops to enable passers-by to make donations through the window at any time of the day or night. By simply tapping their contactless debit or credit card on the window of one of the shops, people will be able to donate £2 instantly to the charity.
To get started and explore how NFC can help your organization, visit www.NFC.org or www.NFC-Forum.org to find a certified agency and other resources.
Internet of Things #IOT
By the year 2020, over 26 billion things, such as cars, TVs and appliances, will be connected via the Internet. Imagine that you are watching a news segment about the crisis in Syria and when inspired, you can point your phone or remote at the tv and donate instantly. Or you read or hear a breaking news story on your fridge or car smart screen and can donate with just a scan of your finger. The possibilities are endless—the future is here!
With Patronicity, you get to decide on what civic development projects become a reality in your city or town. The online fundraising platform for civic projects, Patronicity allows a local nonprofit or community group to post a request for citizens to cover about half of the cost of their project. This is a shorthand way to demonstrate both need and demand. Then, after project agreement, their state economic development agency will chip in to match the funds. Learn more here.
Facebook Spaces is a new virtual reality app where you can hang out with your friends in a fun, interactive virtual environment—as if you were in the same room. Spaces will be very useful for nonprofits that have experiential, location-based missions (think museums, libraries, farms, etc.). Learn more about Facebook Spaces at Facebook’s website.
$Cashtags are unique, tiny URLs that you can easily tweet, text, share and receive donations easily and securely via any device. It requires a one-time set-up and activation, and payments are processed with Stripe. See an example of a nonprofit $Cashtag in action here.
Using Goodworld.Me, registered nonprofits can collect donations on Facebook and Twitter when their supporters use #Donate. Supporters can comment or reply using #donate and instantly give to your cause. For first-time donors, there is a simple sign-up link and after registering, they can use #donate as often as they want. Nonprofits can also incorporate the Goodworld Website Donate Button into their own websites. Sign up for Goodworld.Me at their website.
With the proliferation and increasing popularity of “chatbots” in the marketplace, Facebook Messenger has the potential to be a customer service and question and answer hub for nonprofits. They can now accept payments via the app, and messenger bot services like Chatfuel and Twyla enable Facebook Pages to create “smart replies” to common questions they receive via the app. Learn more about Facebook Messenger app here.
A common misconception about underprivileged populations involves their access and use of mobile technology. According to a Pew Research report, there is an 86 percent “mobile phone penetration rate” in American households with an income of less than $30,000 per year (comparatively, only 59 percent have access to a computer and 47 percent to Internet).
Using text messaging, this nonprofit focuses on enhancing their client’s ability to self-manage their health care (taking medications properly and attending appointments), expanding health literacy and improving care in general. Read about their astounding results and how their text-based communication enables them to do more good here.
Let’s All Do Good Mobile App
Created by the founder of BiddingForGood, this collaborative mobile app enables any nonprofit cause, educational organization, or community group to create, manage and publish rich content—news, events, volunteering opportunities—directly to their supporters via their smartphones. Your nonprofit can sign up for your free lifetime account here.
Samasource uses the power of outsourcing to provide digital work to disadvantaged communities. They use their web-based model of “microwork” to break down large data projects into smaller, computer-based tasks for workers across the world to complete. Learn more about how they are alleviating poverty here.
Which technology innovations are you most excited about? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Julia is a nonprofit digital marketing, an online fundraising strategist and the author of the book, "Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits."