The world has been reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year now. It’s brought several changes in the way we conduct life and business, and it looks like these changes are here to stay.
Most notably, industries across the world are trying to adapt industry-specific business models to the new normal. This holds for sectors in the non-profit sector as well.
One of the most significant ways these non-profit organisations (NPOs) adjust to the new normal, is by leveraging the recent tech trends resulting from the deadly coronavirus.
What are some of these tech trends, how have they impacted the non-profit sector, and how can your NPO take advantage of them? Let's take a look.
Emerging Tech Trends In The Non-profit Sector
These are the four technology trends that have dominated the non-profit sector in the past year:
1. Rise In Mobile Donations
Source: (Blackbaud, 2021).
Fundraising is one of the key components of success for non-profit organisations globally, and new technology is revolutionizing how NPOs accept donations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also greatly changed the way people donate to NPOs like yours. In 2020, mobile donations made up a whopping 28% of all donations made to NPOs - a significant increase from 9% back in 2014.
Today, mobile-friendly applications are driving mobile donations to NPOs to a large extent. That’s because such apps allow NPOs to:
- Take advantage of digital payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo.
- Engage with new demographics such as young donors (a section of the population that NPOs have long struggled to reach).
- Increase donor base by offering tip-of-the-finger, click-of-a-button ease, and user-friendly access.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc worldwide, remote donations are the safest method of giving in 2021.
This is why NPOs must optimize their mobile applications to make the process as seamless as possible for their donor bases.
2. Rise In Cloud Adoption and Remote Work Demands
The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work more mainstream in organisations across all industries, with 74% of CFOs planning to shift some of their employees to remote work arrangements on a permanent basis.
This is also reflected in the non-profit sector, with 69% of NPOs considering a shift to long-term remote work according to Forbes.
If this is also the case for you, then supporting a remote workforce is one of the most critical priorities for your NPO. And the most cost-effective method of doing this by adopting the cloud.
Investing in cloud computing is financially cheaper in the long run, especially when compared to owning or renting a space and maintaining costly on-premises infrastructure (such as networking devices, servers, and Internet access).
Adopting cloud computing also enables you to expand the remote workforce in your NPO. This is because the cloud enables organisations to:
- Encourage staff to work from anywhere, anytime.
- Cross geographical boundaries when hunting for top talent.
- Provide employees with perks that promote work-life balance.
The cloud is therefore not only an affordable, but also an efficient solution.
The trend toward cloud adoption also has major implications for how communication and collaboration are conducted in NPOs. Since face-to-face interactions have become more difficult to arrange due to COVID-19, the use of collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become mainstream.
NPOs in particular have made good use of such collaboration platforms for their purposes, such as offering their services in a virtual environment, or raising funds digitally.
Investing in robust cloud infrastructure have also given NPOs the capacity to store unlimited amounts of on-demand content, which is crucial for conducting online events.
Thus, investments in cloud, communication, and collaboration tools would be necessary to support an online infrastructure and remote workforce in any non-profit organization operating in the year 2021.
3. Personalised Outreach Through AI And IoT
For a long time, NPOs have relied on Constituent Relationship Management software (the equivalent of Customer Relationship Management in the non-profit world) to manage their operations.
They’ve also relied on basic accounting systems to take care of the day-to-day financial operations that keep them solvent.
But today, times are changing. This means that these methods are outdated and inefficient right now, especially post COVID-19. So, how can NPOs like yours step up their game?
Well, NPOs can now leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to engage the constituent base. AI is useful in many ways because it helps NPOs to:
- Deliver personalised and tailor-made messages to their prospective donors.
- Take advantage of all messaging platforms – including email, text messaging, and social media.
- Create maximum impact with minimum effort.
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are similarly making a huge impact on business in the non-profit sector too, as they can capture immense amounts of data and information for NPOs on a regular basis.
This information can be shared with donors to communicate the impact the NPOs are making in the world. This ultimately helps the organization increase its donor base, which is great news for any NPO.
4. The Growing Importance Of Cybersecurity
The massive shift to a remote working environment has led to rising concerns of cyberthreats and cyberattacks across the world. In the U.S.A. alone, Microsoft reported a 50% rise in the rate of phishing attacks committed.
Hackers and other bad actors have targeted all sorts of industries, but the non-profit sector is a favourite target for cybercrime.
Why is this the case? That’s because many non-profit organisations possess a host of personal data and information, as well as credit card numbers and other such bank details.
This is why it is essential for NPOs like yours to not only consider how they would recover from a cyberattack, but whether their data has been compromised or not.
Therefore, you should invest in beefing up the cybersecurity of your NPO to guard against cyberattacks and data breaches. Fortunately, it’s more affordable to do so than ever in 2021.
Implementing cybersecurity measures, however, does not stop with merely the implemention of a cybersecurity system.
It’s also necessary for NPOs to invest in comprehensive cybersecurity training for employees. This should be made a priority not just for your IT personnel, but also for your general staff.
How Non-profit Organisations Can Build A Digital Foundation For Cloud Adoption
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a technological revolution worldwide, and several new tech trends have emerged in the past year.
Non-profit organizations have been riding these tech trends too to adjust to the new normal. Adopting cloud computing is one of the main ways NPOs are reducing the cost of maintaining an effective remote workforce.
Mobile donations have been on the rise, mainly because they offer a safe and easy method of giving during the pandemic, which means that NPOs are now investing in mobile-friendly applications.
Advanced AI and IoT are being used to deliver personalised and impactful messages to the constituent base of most non-profit organizations.
Last but not least, NPOs will face the need to take their cybersecurity measures up a notch to protect against the globa increase in the rate of cyberattacks.
If you’re planning to capitalise on these emerging tech trends in the non-profit sector, it’s advisable to build a digital foundation for your NPO so that it’s better positioned to take advantage of them.
For example, investing in ERP software with cloud capabilities – such as SAP Business One Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central – can provide a solid foundation for your NPO in its efforts to build its cloud capabilities.
But if you're concerned about the impact that doing so will have on your budget, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) offers the Tech-and-GO! grant that can help fund your solution. Click on the image below to learn more.
Blackbaud. (2021). Percentage of Online Transactions Made Using a Mobile Device (Blackbaud Institute 2020 Charitable Giving Report) [Graph]. https://institute.blackbaud.com/charitable-giving-report/online-giving-trends/