8 Ways to Use Technology to Move Your Nonprofit Forward in 2021

At the end of each year, I sit down to compile my thoughts about nonprofit tech trends and opportunities for the next year. As I write this article today, it seems almost laughable to talk about what to expect in 2021 after the year we all just went through. Who knows what this year will bring?

We seem to have a path forward when it comes to the pandemic, but it appears the fallout will still affect how we do things for some (or all?) of 2021 and might even influence how we operate for years to come.

That’s why we need to move forward with what we know now. I think it’s valuable to look ahead, reflect on lessons learned from the past year, and take advantage of opportunities for 2021.

With these ideas in mind, here are eight ways to use technology to move your nonprofit forward this year:

1. Think “mobile-first”.
This was at the top of my list from last year. But, we at Cathexis Partners still see a lot of nonprofits with outdated websites that do not appear or function well on mobile devices. With the already widespread use of mobile devices, and now more people working from home or on the go, it’s more important than ever to be sure your website and online transaction channels (a site visitor’s path from entering your site to taking some action) are easy to navigate via mobile devices. 

If you haven’t updated your nonprofit’s website within the last three years, it’s time to look at it with fresh eyes. A good way to start is to compare your organization’s site with some top-notch nonprofit sites. Here are a few great ones:

2. Use video and data visualizations.
With more activities online than ever before, it’s important to make sure your messages stand out. For example, as you review your website, be sure to look for ways to change flat, uninspiring text into eye candy for site visitors. One great, modern way to do this is to post video messages and present data in colorful charts and infographics.

3. Embrace virtual campaigns and hybrid events for peer-to-peer fundraising.
Many nonprofits have relied for years on walks, runs, rides, and other in-person peer-to-peer fundraising events. Those events will still have their place in the future. But one thing 2020 taught us is that we shouldn’t rely on in-person events alone for our fundraising activities.

There are many opportunities to embrace virtual and hybrid (in-person/virtual) events and campaigns. Here are some examples of what our clients are doing:

4. Put User Generated Content (UGC) to work.
The power behind peer-to-peer fundraising comes from people sharing information and driving support from their networks for a cause they believe in. Using user generated content gives you another way for your participants to share their own thoughts and ideas. For example, use a content aggregator like Juicer or Tintup to bring content into your campaign home page via your hashtags. You can take UGC to the next level using tools like Gather Voices or Seenit to gather user generated videos.

5. Optimize the giving experience.
Making your online giving experience as easy and convenient as possible is always (ALWAYS) a best practice. Be sure you’re offering these online options to remove barriers to giving and to optimize every donation:

  • Versatile payment options — Give donors the ability to donate using credit cards, ACH, PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Venmo.
  • Monthly giving option — When donors make an online donation to your organization, present them with the option to make it a recurring gift with the convenience of monthly payments charged automatically to their credit card.
  • Matching gifts — Adding a corporate matching tool from companies like Double the Donation or HEPdata to your donation forms helps you boost your fundraising campaign results. Working with a matching gift service makes it much easier for your donors to seek matching gifts and for your nonprofit to track expected gift matches.

6. Get a little “pushy” with SMS.
Push notifications are gaining more ground these days. They originate from push notification applications that someone has chosen to install on their phones, so there is a higher level to entry. But, your core stakeholders and key supporters (such as peer-to-peer team captains and high fundraisers or individuals personally connected to your cause), will most likely be interested and invested enough in hearing from your organization to install the app.  And, these types of push notification apps don’t have to be a huge investment: For example, Let’s All Do Good keeps things simple and effective.

7. Employ donor prospecting/wealth screening.
Platforms such as iwave, DonorSearch and boodle.ai make it easy to learn more about your constituents by going beyond simply highlighting your wealthy constituents; they also show you how likely those constituents are to support your cause (their propensity to give) based on multiple data points.

8. Go “livestream”.
Today, platforms like Tiltify, DonorDrive, and JustGiving provide integration with livestreaming platforms such as Twitch to make it possible to create fundraising campaigns such as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Extra Life and St. Jude’s Play Live, which are raising millions of dollars with gamers, artists, chefs, and many other creative people. If your organization has a connection with the gaming community, give livestream fundraising a shot.

Let’s take lessons learned and new opportunities from 2020 into a brighter 2021! If you’re interested in learning more about any of these technologies, or would like help implementing any of them, contact us at Cathexis Partners.

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