Technology is central to how nonprofits operate today, especially now that we have been through several pandemic years that have required organizations to adopt all kinds of new digital strategies. From virtual and hybrid events to new forms of peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofits have expanded their toolkits and broadened their horizons.
But every time organizations adopt a new piece of technology, they must think carefully and ask a few questions about the value it brings. An ideal addition to a technology stack should help accomplish two things:
- Maximize revenue with innovations that increase donor contributions and/or provide greater levels of efficiency
- Reduce stress by making something easier, streamlining (or eliminating) manual tasks, and/or connecting data sources to provide new levels of donor insights
Technology that satisfies these criteria form the core investments in innovation needed to advance your mission. Let us review a few examples of technology at work in the two contexts that matter most: donor-facing/fundraising operations and internal operations.
Donor-facing technology includes an organization’s website and any other marketing or fundraising outlets that both staff and donors interact with to optimize the fundraising experience.
The goals with these tools are to create more intuitive, engaging experiences for donors and to simplify the fundraising process for internal teams. Here are three examples of donor-facing technology that should be considered and how they can accomplish these goals:
1. Robust donation software
- An intuitive online donation experience is a foundational piece of a year-round fundraising strategy. The donation software that supports it should be highly customizable and allow organizations to keep the donation process quick and easy for donors. Look for revenue-boosting options like recurring donations and suggested donation amounts.
2. Virtual and hybrid event platforms
- Technology literally facilitates virtual and hybrid events, so tools play a critical role in their ultimate success. The right event platform should simplify planning and hosting for internal staff, remove technical hurdles for guests, and generally create a more mission-centric atmosphere. By supporting all the programming and fundraising activities needed without becoming a logistical distraction, platforms will help donors to focus on the mission and internal staff to focus on driving more engagement and revenue.
3. Auction technology
- Auction platforms and mobile bidding tools bring the same benefits as robust virtual event software: streamlined backend logistics and a more engaging experience for donors. This will boost engagement and bids, especially when worked into a strong program alongside mission moments, live appeals, and speakers. Be sure to provide clear instructions so donors know how to use the mobile bidding software on their smartphones and offer real-time support as needed.
Ideal donor-facing technology should be able to be continually reused for new events and campaigns over time. And with multiple applications for some tools—using mobile bidding software for in-person and virtual auctions alike—the right investment can pay itself off quickly as nonprofits generate more revenue and keep donors engaged.
Internal technology includes tools or platforms that teams use to run the organization. The goals with these tools are to streamline processes to save time, generate and analyze data in smarter ways, and generally make employees’ work easier so that they can better focus on serving constituents and generating revenue. Examples include:
- CRM or database (the most important internal technical asset)
- Project management platforms
- Accounting tools
- Marketing software
However, in terms of maximizing revenue and easing stress, there are two foundational concepts to keep in mind:
- These are tools that help teams make the most of the data collected in CRMs. A.I. analytics and prospect research platforms are the perfect examples. A.I. solutions can analyze donation data for deep patterns to provide clearer insights into donors’ giving habits and generate optimal ask amounts. Other prospect research tools can screen databases against known philanthropic data to find new mid-sized or major gift opportunities. Both tools can boost the ROI of fundraising and development efforts, and they make for more organic donor stewardship experiences. When teams know exactly whom to ask, when, and for how much, fundraising instantly becomes more efficient and personalized.
- Integrations are not technically standalone pieces of software, but they are instead connections between various platforms that allow for the seamless transfer of data. Integrations between external tools and internal CRMs are essential for maximizing the long-term value of a nonprofit’s tech stack. They connect the donor-facing and internal aspects of your operations to streamline tasks, provide clearer insights, and increase the functionality of data. Look for pre-built integrations between CRMs and other fundraising software, donation tools, website, auction software, marketing platforms, and more.
Establishing a solid data foundation consisting of a CRM system and integrations that ensuring that it is continuously updated, enables nonprofits to unlock new levels of donor insight with enhanced revenue growth. Being able to analyze past performance and automate record-keeping are some of the most important keys to scaling up an organization’s impact sustainably without overwhelming the internal team. Once teams have a comprehensive database, analytical and predictive tools such as A.I. services enable nonprofits derive even more value for their mission over time.