4 Emerging Technologies That Could Greatly Impact Nonprofits
New technology impacts how any organization or business operates. So what’s on the rise for nonprofits in 2014? From mobile donations to investment in social media, look through these emerging technologies and get your nonprofit in a position to raise more awareness and gain more donations for your cause.
1. Mobile Donations
Research from Pew Internet shows that 63 percent of adult cellphone owners use their phones to go online, double the percentage of people since Pew started conducting surveys on the topic in 2009. One way to raise money through mobile phones is by implementing a text message campaign. You have likely seen the Red Cross text-to-donate codes during natural disasters. This may be an option for your nonprofit if it deals with crisis situations.
You could also access smartphone users on the device they already use every day via a mobile fundraising app. For example, I Can Go Without is an app that encourages users to give up something they regularly spend money on — such as weekly movie tickets — instead saving the money for charity. Another app, Check-in for Good helps users find participating retail locations where checking in on a mobile device generates a donation for charity. Make sure to get set up with a payment processing company to accept mobile donations.
2. Responsive Design
If you want people to donate via mobile, responsive website design — sites that appear differently when they’re viewed on a phone vs. a desktop — makes sense. Nonprofit Tech for Good has some helpful examples of nonprofit websites that have successfully implemented responsive design, showing what the sites look like on a desktop/laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. A shrunken version of your regular website is not easy on the eyes; potential donors will probably get annoyed at having to zoom in and out of the page. Also, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users a year ago, so if you want to connect with followers on social media, make your site mobile-friendly.
If your organization doesn’t have a social media manager or coordinator, you may find an increasing need to hire one, which is not unusual as nonprofits are investing more in social media. This staff member will have to be available outside of traditional office hours in order to live-tweet at conferences, fundraisers or during television events that relate to your cause. If you’re new to live-tweeting, first find the official hashtag for the event and use it in every tweet — this allows you to connect with the people watching or attending the same thing. For example, if you were tweeting during the State of the Union address, the official hashtag is #SOTU. Don’t only promote your own content, but tweet about information that connects your cause to the speech or event, giving credit where it’s due.
4. Gmail Image Caching
This gets into the technical details of your nonprofit’s email marketing. Email service providers typically track opened emails with a one-by-one pixel image in the email code. Each time the email is opened, even multiple times by the same user, it gets counted. But with image caching, things have changed for Gmail users. Media Cause explains that the tracking pixel will be downloaded only once (by Gmail, in this case) and stored on a proxy server. Each time a user reopens the email, the pixel image is downloaded from the proxy server instead of the original server. What this means for your email marketing efforts is that your email service provider will record only one view per user — which gives a more accurate count of unique opens in Gmail.
What are you keeping your eye on this year? Let us know in the comments below!
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a payment-processing firm that helps non-profits streamline their donation process. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company, and also serves on its Board of Directors.