3 Technology Trends Shaping the Nonprofit Sector
Technology is often at the forefront of innovation for businesses, but is it as crucial for nonprofit organizations? What is the role of technology in helping nonprofits advance their missions and serve the community better?
In times of economic downturn, now more than ever, technology is playing a pivotal role in effectively accelerating the way nonprofits communicate and engage with their supporters, volunteers, advocates, and donors; as well as run their day-to-day operations smoothly.
One of the most notable developments in recent years has been the growing connectivity among people and their devices – whether it is mobile phones, tablets, or PCs. Additionally, Cloud computing has added an easier, more flexible, and sometimes cheaper way of managing as well as accessing your data and applications remotely yet securely, without the need for hardware equipment. All these together are changing the way you find new constituents as well as engage with your current audience base.
Today, we will focus on the sweeping changes in nonprofit marketing brought on by innovative uses of cloud computing, social media, and mobile technologies around the world.
With tighter budgets and shrinking funds, nonprofits need to innovate – figuring out how to do more with less. According to TechSoup Global’s 2012 Cloud Computing Survey of NGOS, nonprofits, and charities around the world, 90% of respondents are already using some type of cloud technology.
Cloud computing has proven to be a cost-effective and secure way of managing daily organizational operations. This is especially beneficial for organizations that have multiple offices with a dispersed workforce. The first and easiest step towards cloud computing can be migrating your email (Exchange) and file servers to the cloud. If you are a 501(c)(3) organization, you are eligible for using licenses of Office 365 from Microsoft, free of cost. This is a part of Microsoft’s larger “Technology for Good” initiative. Not only is it free, it also helps you reduce your current IT overheads by eliminating the need to buy and maintain physical equipment and provides ubiquitous access to your workforce from anywhere in the world – even the most remote locations. For a more in-depth look into how you can get started, read our blog post on Microsoft Office 365 for nonprofits here.
Social media like Twitter and Facebook offer great platforms for nonprofits to raise awareness, expand donor base, and boost advocacy rates. You have traditionally used your website, email blasts, and mailers to reach your audience – adding social media can help you exponentially expand your existing base. A recent survey of 123 non-profits by Vertical Response (a leading email service provider) shows that over 60% nonprofits surveyed are spending more time than they did a year ago on social media. In fact, they are more active on Facebook and Twitter than most small businesses. The American Red Cross was one of the first large nonprofit organizations to utilize social media marketing and currently has over one million followers on Twitter who can currently be engaging in and/or communicating Red Cross’ vision across the globe. However, technology is only an enabler. Good content is crucial in driving your message and engaging your audience. Without that, you will not see the results that you are hoping for.
According to Gartner, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web-access device worldwide, in 2013. In order to take advantage of this major shift in web-browsing demographics, nonprofits need to make sure that their website is easy to use and navigate, not just on PC’s but also on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones. High performance and ease of navigation are fundamental to having an effective and responsive web design, making it easier for your constituents to find the information they need, whether it is volunteers trying to find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities or donors wanting to make an online donation using their iPhones. To learn more about the specific design considerations of developing a mobile website, read our blog post here. Nonprofit Tech for Good provides a list of 33 mobile nonprofit websites that are shining examples of a responsive website.
Technology can play an essential role in helping nonprofits reinvent themselves, increase their productivity, and expand their audience reach. You may already be using some of these channels available to you today or maybe looking to get started. It may seem daunting at first, but remember that utilizing technology with a strategic vision can be your best friend in helping you achieve your end-goal!