Technology is changing how nonprofits operate. It’s making nonprofits more productive, but the ubiquitous nature of technology can also be overwhelming. Staying up to date with the ways nonprofits and their supporters are using technology will help your organization drive deeper engagement. Here are some noteworthy trends to help you prepare for the future:
Personalize user experience with the right tools
Turning one-time givers into recurring donors remains one of the largest issues for nonprofits. So organizations are using software to create personal appeals toward potential givers and foster lasting engagement. The right software will make it easy to analyze your donor base and make the relevant ask. For example, you don’t want to send your $25 ask to corporate partners, or your $5000 ask to all individual donors. A robust volunteer management software will help you target your approach so that potential donors and volunteers encounter the causes and opportunities they care about.
Storytelling is as important as ever
Today, funders and donors are looking at nonprofit impact, rather than overhead spending, to evaluate organizational health. Impact can be measured using both quantitative and qualitative data, and each play a role in telling your organization’s story. Qualitative data, like success stories, allows you to assess the quality of your organization’s programs and understand change-making at ground level; plus, stories of your impact are more likely to capture the hearts of individual donors and volunteers. On the other hand, gathering meaningful quantitative data, like volunteer hours contributed, denotes the scale of your efforts (awarding foundations and corporate donors tend to look for numerical data because it’s easier to compare and analyze).
In 2019, nonprofits should consider creating a plan for gathering meaningful qualitative and quantitative data. More nonprofits are investing in technology to assist with administrative tasks so that they can focus resources on developing a strategy for data collection and reporting. Measuring impact will require a well-planned, multi-faceted approach, but there are steps you can take now:
- Collect stories from community members who have been helped by your organization’s programs. Share these stories on your site, blog, and other media platforms.
- Encourage volunteers to log their hours by sending email reminders or “how-tos”. Volunteer participation hours can be a good indicator of impact and with the right management software, it’s simple data to collect!
Looking for more information on impact measurement? Be sure to look out for our series on impact reporting for ways your organization can measure impact.
Video content is now the most popular form of online content, and digital donors are more interested in watching content than reading it. According to WordStream, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019! Video is a great way to share the stories of those your nonprofit has helped or to feature your most generous givers. You’ll bolster new support with compelling video content featured on your site. That’s because studies show viewers absorb 95% of a message when presented in video, compared to 10% when formatted in plain text. Not sure where to start? Check out this guide on how to create a nonprofit campaign video.
Say goodbye to home phones
For years, reaching donors by phone has been an essential part of fruitful fundraising. However, the gradual disappearance of the home phone will continue to impact fundraising efforts in 2019. Fewer households with landlines mean that nonprofits must catalogue multiple contact numbers and methods of communication per household (due to personal cell phones). So having an automated contact management system in place will become essential. We recommend a volunteer management software that manages, automates, and personalizes communication.
Last year, online giving increased by 23% and is poised to gain steam next year. Make sure your website is set up to inform users of your donation needs, as well as receive donations with ease. Keep in mind that while landlines are disappearing, mobile phone usage rates—for the purpose of web browsing—continue to soar:
Source: M+R 2018 Benchmarks Study
People still use email
In 2012, only 6% of donors were willing to donate through email. That number rose to 28% in 2018 and is expected to climb further into 2019, according to a study by Dunham and Company. In fact, email inspires 27% of all giving globally, second only to social media. Today, email remains a trusted source of communication. Make sure you allow for easy donation through email; provide a button or link that leads directly to your online donation page in the body of your message. In addition to its fundraising capabilities, email is a vital tool for maintaining support year-round. Check out our guide on creating email drip campaigns, and be sure to learn about how to write compelling eNewsletters.
Social media may take a back seat
There is no question that the popularity of social media has skyrocketed within the last decade. But the social media obsession has also raised concerns about its effect on people’s mental health. Facebook and Instagram have even developed tools to help users track social activity and take breaks. Adopting healthy online habits means cutting back for many individuals. So in 2019, nonprofits may want to consider shifting their marketing focus. Social media will remain an important part of your outreach plan, but it’s important to diversify your efforts; consider taking an “omnichannel” approach to bolstering engagement. Ask volunteers and program recipients to share their stories through your blog or in person at your next event. Just make sure your message is unified across all your communication channels.
Technology allows your nonprofit to tell stories, foster engagement, and improve productivity. Take the time to learn more about today’s tech trends and you’ll feel prepared and invigorated for another year of doing good.
Also published on Medium.