Technology and NPOs have always had an interesting relationship: Nonprofits tend to be less impressed customer-focused marketing, and less willing to invest in new long-term technology unless the ROI is visible, preferably with a few industry examples to back it up. However, a technology used correctly can be an advantageous source of savings and efficiency for NPOs, often targeting the very problems they want to get rid of.
The key is finding the latest tech solutions that are having a provable impact on organizations beyond the hype for “the most recent thing.” Let’s take a look at the top trends that impress us the most.
The Cloud Continues to Revolutionize Structure
Cloud data means less dependence on hardware and the enablement of flexible, fast organizations that don’t have to rely on traditional structures when their important data can be anywhere, at any time. This has proven particularly beneficial for NPOs, which tend to prefer more adaptability and more flexible work arrangements including remote work, working from home, scheduling trading, and more. In other words, your data is better off if it can be accessed from the cloud.
The key, however, is finding cloud services that you can trust. It is not a good idea to change your organizational structure based on cloud services without proper encryption and verification. The good news is that professional options like OneDrive and Google Storage have proven to been reliable storage options, and are available free or with discounts for NPOs.
The New Age of Digital Payments
NPOs love digital payments, and for a good reason: They enable immediate payment based on appropriate calls to action that can be connected compelling content or messages, giving donors something to do with their emotions while bringing in funds more reliably. But today’s digital payment options go far beyond the normal PayPal link: Facebook now has an option that allows people to donate while they are still on the social network. YouTube has donation cards that can carry viewers away to an online payment option. Twitter and Snapchat are experimenting with $Cashtags and Snapcash for instant methods of giving away money. Even Gmail has an automatic money transfer option for those you exchange emails with. It’s an exciting time for digital payments, and a good idea to review the latest technology services for nonprofits to see how they are changing.
Chatbots for More Than Just Selling
Chatbots are finally coming into their own, and that includes a lot of interesting applications for non-profits that sometimes have trouble communicating their full mission. For those who haven’t encountered many before, a chatbot is a system that pops open a chat window on a website and offers information or services for visitors. These are automated systems with AI capabilities, so a real person doesn’t need to manage them – they can explain things all on their own, and well-crafted chatbots are skilled at making conversations look as normal as possible.
These days, chatbots are a popular marketing topic and are likely to become ubiquitous as time goes on. You can craft them in Facebook, buy them for your website, and program them for your Skype software. For nonprofits, this means the bot can pop up ready to have a conversation with any visitors about what the nonprofit is, how it works, and what connections it has to local events or news. Since chatbots are already being used to sell products within the app, we also expect to see donation options that the bot can offer interested visitors, increasing funding as well as awareness.
CRM for Donors
Today’s customer relationship management solutions are diverse and, thankfully, much more modular than in the past, allowing organizations to pick out the services they need with the guarantee they are all designed to work together across the same platform. And these vendors have no trouble working with NPOs – after all, a customer and a donor share most things in common when it comes to managing and using data. So a good CRM system can help reach more donors, utilize information more effectively, and create more powerful sales funnel.
One way we’re seeing this benefit today’s donors is via email: While it’s trendy to think of email as an “old” method of communication, it’s actually doing very well on the marketing front – indeed, when it comes to results, good old fashioned emails keep on improving, especially in the mobile sector: Social media remains popular for personal use, but many people just prefer to conduct more professional matters, including donations, through email.. If you don’t have a CRM system set up to take advantage of email messaging, it’s time to consider one.
More Applications for the IoT
The Internet of Things, in abstract, is pretty easy to understanding: A bunch of smart devices send data to their respective services, and we learn more about things while also gaining greater control over the technology around. However, finding specific ways this impacts NPOs is a bit more challenging: However, there’s a ton of potential in the IoT and the ideas currently being tested here are exciting.
Roughly, smart devices for non-profits fall into two different groups. The first is infrastructure: When smart devices can tell you how well concrete pillars are holding up, how much heat buildings are retaining, and how efficiently energy or water are used, then nonprofits become very interested in accessing that data for their reports and fundraising. The second group are sensors that can be used in marketing. For example, we are entirely making up: “Thanks to our new partnership with GeoTesla, every time your car passes a local city park you can choose to automatically donate $1 to our land improvement project!”
One of the greatest advantages of today’s apps is that they can be created by even small organizations, and they are adaptable enough that any NPO can find a way to use apps. Not sure where they may fit in with your goals or partnerships? Check out some of the more innovative uses of non-profit apps currently at work for ideas. However, app creation requires a lot of cost-benefit analysis and asks quite a lot of donors (when was the last time you wanted to download another app on your phone?). Remember to stay creative!
For more information on our non-profit managed services and other IT services for nonprofits (including consultations on what you need), contact Vertical IT at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 505-8215! We can help New England nonprofits like yours.