Technologies Every Nonprofit Should Try (Even if They Seem Scary)
Your nonprofit probably has multiple core technologies in place, such as customer relationship management (CRM), donor management, marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising software. Those are critically important systems that help you run your organization.
But there are other technologies that you might be missing out on. These technologies have the potential to help your staff be more productive and find innovative ways to reach (and exceed) your nonprofit’s goals.
You might hesitate to try these technologies .They might even seem unapproachable or even downright scary. You need to stay focused on your nonprofit’s mission, right? And your staff already has plenty to do without looking for new projects.
Keep in mind that many technologies can help your team be more effective and efficient, so while trying them will take time, might cost money and will likely push you outside of your comfort zone, the effort can be well worth it for your nonprofit.
6 Nonprofit Technologies to Try
By regularly setting aside time to learn more about and experiment with technologies, you can find new ways to accomplish more and engage more effectively with your constituents. Let’s look at six technologies that are worth trying to help you take your nonprofit’s work to the next level.
1. Constituent Engagement Scoring
This technology is often included as functionality in core systems, such as fundraising and marketing software. It helps your organization measure and use engagement data to better understand and connect with constituents.
For example, you could assign constituents one point for clicking through on an email, four points for registering for an event and five points for making a donation. Calculate each constituent’s cumulative points to determine how engaged they are and then set up various engagement campaigns based on their level of engagement.
2. Process Automation Tools
This is another category that’s often included as functionality in core software. These tools can help your staff save valuable time by automating mundane, manual processes, such as sending certain email communications to your donors, volunteers and other constituents.
Automation doesn’t necessarily mean poorer quality or canned communications. For example, automated communications can still be targeted, using data from your CRM or donor management system to send unique messages to different audiences based on each recipient’s specific interests and interactions with your organization.
3. Dynamic Asks
Many software systems, such as CRM, donor management and peer-to-peer fundraising, allow your nonprofit to automatically specify ask levels on your donation forms based on each donor’s previous donation level. If you aren’t using this functionality, give it a try.
For example, if a donor previously donated $25, you might start ask levels for that donor’s future donations at $25. Or, you might even bump it up to $30. This approach encourages donors to give more.
4. Matching Gifts
This is a simple one to try because you can easily add a corporate matching tool to your donation form. It helps your organization to take advantage of corporate matching programs to boost your fundraising campaign results. Without using this technology, you could be leaving money on the table with each donation to your organization.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI can seem intimidating, but the potential of AI for nonprofits is intriguing. And software companies are increasingly adding AI functionality to their products, and even rolling out AI-specific products, giving nonprofits more options to use AI to improve their work.
For example, when Jon Thompson joined Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the organization tasked him with determining how technology can advance philanthropy. In the process of answering that question, he and his team realized that wealth alone was not enough of an indicator to determine willingness to give. Eventually, the nonprofit found that wealth, combined with donor attachment to the organization and psychological factors, were more powerful indicators of willingness to give.
The team then used DonorSearch AI to efficiently build segmentation lists from these multiple data points, seeing direct response rates soar by 85% and gift size grow by 25% as a result.
6. Volunteer Management Software
If you’re still using spreadsheets and manual processes to manage volunteers, it’s time to turn this around. There are multiple software solutions on the market that make it easier to manage the full volunteer cycle and deliver a smoother volunteer experience that’s more convenient and enjoyable for your staff and your volunteers.
Some core software solutions include volunteer management functionality. There are also standalone software solutions built specifically for volunteer management.
Nonprofits like Hands On Atlanta have demonstrated how volunteer management software can simplify volunteer programs. The organization has used the Golden volunteer app to engage 5,000 more volunteers and clock 18,000 more service hours year over year.
3 Tips for Trying New Technology
Those were just a few examples of technologies worth trying and how they can be used to help nonprofit professionals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. So, how do you dip your toe in the water with new technologies? Here are three approaches to help you get started:
1. Explore Your Existing Software
Take time to learn more about functionality in the software your nonprofit already has. For example, poke around to see what tabs and buttons are available, take a few online training courses and do some online searches. There are likely many capabilities that you don’t realize you have within your technology.
2. Start Trying New Things
Once you uncover new functionality in your software, give it a try. Or, if you can make the investment in a new technology app, do so and experiment with it. Try new things, test them and learn from them so that you can continue to improve your approaches.
3. Set Up an Innovation Fund
Technology training, testing new approaches and expanding your technology with new tools can cost extra time and money. So, consider asking your board to help you set up an innovation fund. These dollars can be earmarked for your organization’s staff to gain the training needed to try new things with your technology or acquire new tools to expand the use of your current technology.
Take time to dig into functionality in your existing core software, explore other technologies and experiment with them. Understand how they work and how you can put them to use for your organization. When you see the results for your nonprofit, you’ll be glad you did.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Mark founded Cathexis Partners in 2008 to help nonprofit organizations get the most from their existing technology tools, implement new technology to address gaps and find the best overall approach to using technology to support their missions. He previously served as director of IT consulting at a fundraising event production company focused on nonprofits.
Mark also serves on the editorial advisory board for NonProfit PRO, where he contributes monthly to his blog, “Nonprofit Tech Matters.”