In the first part of the series of discussions on 2021 nonprofit sector trends, we talk about the benefits of adopting technology and online tools to engage, grow, manage and take care of your members.
2020 was certainly a year of change: the entire world had to shift, adapt and pivot in response to challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit sector, heavily impacted by lockdown, isolation and social distancing, was not an exception. Many charities had to change the way they engage and manage their volunteers, the way they communicate with their members and donors, and, of course, the way they conduct fundraising events.
Our new series of blog posts is dedicated to some of the arising trends in the charity sector in 2021, focusing specifically on developments in technology, marketing and fundraising. We hope this overview will give you some new ideas and help you stay ahead of the game. Let’s dive on in!
The first trend of 2021 is, no doubt, further digitization of the way not-for-profit organisations operate, from collecting and storing their information to connecting with their supporters. In 2020 many charities realised the need to upgrade from spreadsheets to more comprehensive and functional software. Those who rapidly embraced new technologies proved to be more resilient and managed to not only survive, but perform well during the pandemic providing essential services and supporting their communities.
In 2021, this digital transformation trend is expected to not only continue but increase exponentially. Certainly, digital trends will create challenges around privacy and data access, which cannot be taken lightly and will need to be addressed. Compliance with Privacy Acts and GDPR policies must be a priority when using digital services. When done correctly, however, going digital will provide many positive outcomes:
First and foremost, adopting online tools that help simplify processes and streamline certain tasks will free up more time for nonprofits to focus on their mission. Despite the initial challenges that might arise when transferring contacts into a new database/CRM or setting up workflows, having a centralised system will significantly reduce time spent on admin tasks. The right technology will also allow for more flexibility and accessibility for members, donors and volunteers and will provide them with better experience.
Reducing time spent on administration or finance management can also mean reducing the costs associated with them such as paying an accountant or a secretary. Organising virtual events is also more cost effective compared to holding live events. Some content created during online events, such as recorded online workshops or webinars can then be used across their other platforms and channels, or repurposed to become digital guides or ebooks and bring additional revenue.
Taking communication online serves to boost engagement. Instead of relying on personal connection, many charitable organisations are learning to build relationships online thus connecting with new audiences they might not have been able to reach before due to their geographical location, time difference or limited online presence. Utilising tools that have traditionally been viewed as entertainment, such as social media platforms, can be groundbreaking for both businesses and nonprofits. They are a great way to connect and gain more in-depth understanding of potential donors’ interests. Making use of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter allows nonprofits to better connect with Millennial and Generation Z digital pros.
Ultimately, with a variety of available online tools, apps and services for all purposes from video conferencing to personalised communication to social media optimisation, charities will become more efficient and effective in serving communities than ever before. Embracing new technology can result in multiple benefits for the social sector, the main one being increased awareness of the work they are doing. The more people find out about your organisation, the more volunteers and donors you will be able to gain. Use the new technology trends to establish strong relationships with your stakeholders and your communities and see where it will lead!