Time is flying by – January, a long month, is gone, and here we are in February, a short month, which will probably seem even shorter! Although the new year is over 40 days old, I am still sifting through and pondering the prognostications that were made about 2015.
I was very intrigued by the predictions for technology trends in nonprofit organizations and how new ways of working within the organization and externally connecting with the community are taking hold. Technology is impacting decision making to fundraising, service delivery to community outreach.
From looking across multiple resources on technology and nonprofits, I gleaned the overarching trends to be:
- Everything is going mobile and mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster, and more relevant and prevalent to and in our lives.
- Crowdsourcing is becoming mainstream and is usurping hierarchical decision making (from Wikipedia: the broadcasting of problems to the public, and an open call for contributions to solving the problem. Members of the public submit solutions which are then owned by the entity which broadcast the problem….) impacting how organizations achieve their priorities and goals.
- Social media, in its present and future forms, are a must to engage customers, clients, and patients in feeling connected to the organization and each other. Engagement and connections are the new business model for both for profit and nonprofit organizations.
- Crowdsourcing, engagement and connections are leading to new types of service delivery, fundraising, and ways of working.
- Data analysis is key to reaching, engaging, and connecting to a target audience and determining which outreach strategies work, which don’t. The design, algorithms, and analysis of data determine the reliability of results. Cloud technology will make data collection easier and more accessible to everyone.
These sound like major shifts to me – changing from decisions by the leadership team to decisions driven by customers – to expanded opportunities for fundraising and getting the organizational mission out. All this makes my head spin and causes me to be both amazed and horrified at the same time.
What do these trends look like?
- Mobile will continue to be an essential part of how nonprofits engage with supporters and expand the reach of their staff. Nearly half of all emails are now read on mobile devices. Mobile devices are quickly becoming the platform of choice for computing and collaboration versus sitting behind a desk, which will change how organizations leverage data and drive mission delivery.
- Data is the most valuable asset in any nonprofit organization. Consider how much additional web, social, and interaction data is now being gathered by charities. This ever increasing amount of data means nonprofits must shift from collecting to analyzing.
- As the switch to mobile devices continues to gain momentum, solutions will be developed for mobile devices, tablets, and traditional desktops by default. Information and functionality will be available to users in any environment.
- Cloud hosting provides a secure, highly available, managed, cheaper, and less cumbersome environment for organizations. The move to the cloud becomes even more critical when we consider the pervasive nature of mobile devices. The two environments were made for each other to share vast amounts of data and information from any place, any time in a simple way. Ultimately, the cloud will serve as a game changer for many nonprofits, providing access to a multitude of services that were otherwise too costly even three years ago.
Again, engagement, data sharing, mobile technology, new ways of conceiving of and delivering services and soliciting donations.
5 Technology Trends to Watch in 2014 from the NonProfit Tech for Good blog of January 11, 2014 goes further than Mary Beth Westmoreland:
- Nonprofits that have not yet mobilized their online communications and fundraising campaigns will start to pay the price literally in lost donations.
- Facebook and Twitter are working on launching their own digital wallet systems which could radically transform online fundraising via social networks.
- As social media becomes more integrated into TV, nonprofits would be wise to master the art of live reporting at special events and fundraising campaigns.
- A new suite of mobile fundraising apps have launched that have staying power – and more will likely follow – and early adopter nonprofits should watch and pioneer the trend.
- The reality is that mobile and social media require time to use effectively. The number of social networks as well as the quality of content that your nonprofit creates for your social media campaigns is directly correlated to the amount of staff time your nonprofit invests in new media. Hiring dedicated staff or staff with tech savvy skills becomes a priority to compete in “techno-space”.
The blog goes on to say that more nonprofits should and will invest in new media managers to orchestrate all this, as well as employees who are able to adapt to and utilize technology to go mobile, connect with various audiences, fundraise, and analyze data. You can take our working online self ranking staircase to see how ready you are for these trends. Planning for professional development to help everyone become net and tech savvy will be more crucial than ever as these trends evolve.
How to begin:
This year, Nonprofit Tech for Good blog from January 5, 2015 targeted 10 Goals for Nonprofit New Media Managers for 2015 instead of general technology trends for nonprofits to emphasize the importance of this role in achieving organizational goals through media strategies. There are some good, practical steps to take to put your virtual toe in the water. Here are a few:
- Experiment with at least one new social network. Using data such as Google analytics or social media site information, track how effective your experiment is with your target audience.
- Refresh your social media training – new features and possibilities pop up everyday that may benefit your organization or you. Participating in webinars, courses, and reviewing YouTube videos will keep you up to date on how to use the latest features of each social media app.
- Download, study, play with nonprofit mobile apps to see what they do and if they will benefit you and/or your organization. Most have a free version to help you play.
- Try Crowdfunding – engage your community in funding a specific project. Try a crowdfunding app such as Kickstarter or one specifically for nonprofits such as Crowdrise and CauseVox. According to Lorenzo Grandi of StartUp Bootcamp, using a video about your project will dramatically increase donations. He offers other helpful hints about crowdfunding that nonprofits can use now.
- Add Cause Awareness days to your organization’s calendar, and stream the event on local tv or onto your web site.
It is a new world and changing fast. Time is not just flying – it is flying at warp speed, and so are technology and work changes. Are you ready? Is your organization ready? What are you doing to help everyone in your organization learn how to manage these trends together?
Featured image: © Christianm | Dreamstime.com – Time Flies Photo: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-time-flies-image17435880#res5954946