Nonprofit Tech Trends to Watch in 2018

I’m not going to make sweeping predictions about nonprofit technology for the upcoming year. (You can thank me later.) But, I do think it’s important to keep an eye on tech trends that may be worth trying for your own nonprofit’s online campaigns in 2018.

That said, here’s my take on some nonprofit tech trends to watch in 2018, based on what we’ve been seeing at Cathexis Partners in our work with nonprofits:

  • Responsive design for nonprofit websites. According to Pew Research Center, as of January 2017, 77% of Americans own smartphones, and a growing number use them as their primary means of online access at home. Roughly half of Americans own a tablet or e-reader device. Add to that, according to Blackbaud, 14% of donations were made on a mobile device in 2015 (a 45% increase in one year). These trends point to the importance of responsive design for nonprofit websites, or essentially, designing your website to be viewed in response to the size of the screen or web browser a person is using. Many nonprofits are recognizing these trends, leading to yet another trend: nonprofits ensuring that their website designs are responsive.
  • Facebook Fundraising getting better for nonprofits. Many nonprofits use Facebook Fundraising because it makes donating to a nonprofit simple. And now that Facebook has announce it will no longer charge transaction fees to nonprofits, Facebook Fundraising is getting even better for nonprofits. In addition, one of the gotchas of using Facebook Fundraising has been that the nonprofit receives only the donation, and does not receive information about donors/constituents for the purpose of thanking them or engaging with them in the future. Blackbaud recently announced a Facebook integration that should address this for their clients.
  • Emoji in nonprofit email subject lines. It may seem hokey, but organizations are reporting increased open rates for emails with emoji (also known as emoticons) in the subject line. Whether you ♥ emoji or not, it might be a trend worth testing in 2018.
  • Widgets and code snippets in nonprofit websites. There’s a wealth of free widgets and code snippets available today, and organizations are finding great ways to integrate them into their websites and online campaigns to extend their campaign reach. Just a couple of examples:
  • One Love BVI uses Juicer to aggregate their hashtags and social posts into one social media feed on their website.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida uses the Facebook Comments plugin on their personal fundraising pages.
  • Multimedia content in nonprofit websites, emails, social media. Nonprofits are realizing the benefits of incorporating multimedia content — including images, podcasts, videos, Facebook Live, and interactive slideshows — into their websites, emails, social media, and other communications. For example, The Ride for Roswell (Roswell Park Alliance Foundation) and The Longest Day (Alzheimer’s Association) embed video in their websites. We have a lot of content available to us (and often pushed at us) today. Keeping content varied and compelling helps messages break through the “noise” and gives constituents a reason to open, seek out, and read an organization’s messages.
  • Online collaboration tools to bring staff, board, volunteers, and constituents together. I don’t think you’d find too many people that would disagree with the idea that collaboration is critical to the success of any online fundraising campaign (or any project, for that matter!). We’re seeing more and more nonprofits using online collaboration tools to bring staff, board, volunteers, and constituents together. Some examples of online collaboration tools: Chanty, Google Hangouts, Salesforce Chatter, Slack, Stride, and Yammer. They’re worth checking out.

So there you have it: My take on nonprofit tech trends to watch in 2018. I can almost guarantee that more trends will pop up in 2018. And, you likely won’t have time to (or even want to) try them all. But, I do think it’s worth taking time to try some of them (especially the responsive design for your website — you really should be doing that!). They’re working for many nonprofits, and they may work for yours as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these trends, or would like help in implementing any of them, contact us at Cathexis Partners.

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