Nonprofit Technology Outlook: 2014

In 2014, charitable foundations will likely face an expanding list of options regarding technology. From payment processing software to cloud-based services, nonprofits can choose from many providers to make managing operations and handling fundraising efforts an easier experience. The Nonprofit Technology Network highlighted several transformations in the nonprofit community, as well as numerous aspects of running a charitable organization that won't likely change in the coming year.

  1. First, donor information and data will continue to be indispensable for higher quality relationships with contributors.
    Nonprofits have traditionally relied on knowledge they can glean from all interactions with donors, whether it's through direct mail, telephone, mobile devices, email or social networking sites. At the same time, npENGAGE emphasized the fact that analytics will probably become more complicated than in the past because of the variety of channels that donors have at their disposal to connect with charities. One difficulty many organizations have is connecting information from these distinct channels to get a coherent and accurate portrait of individual donors. For instance, if a contributor comments on a video post through a nonprofit's social networking site but the group only has contact information for his or her email address, then it's much harder to fully understand contributors in depth. To drive higher levels of personalization, this granular degree of donor information is necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, NTEN identified the "bring your own device" trend as one that will likely extend into the nonprofit community.
    Not only does this provide a cost-effective alternative to charitable foundations that constantly have to balance overhead costs with revenue they gain from fundraising activities but it also gives staff members the flexibility necessary to stay connected to their colleagues and contributors. Similarly, NTEN said people are generally more familiar with their personal devices - tablets, smartphones or laptops - which increases the chance they'll perform efficiently and consistently.
  3. In the same vein, npENGAGE suggested 2014 will the year when organizations will increasingly move away from computer-based systems to software as a service platforms operated through the cloud.
    Instead of depending on incessant upgrades or migrations, charitable foundations can utilize user-intuitive software provided by a third-party that can be customized to suit their individual needs. In the meantime, nonprofits won't have to rely so heavily on IT support that be expensive and frequently requires significant training to ensure all staff members can work with it free from trouble.

While technology rapidly evolves, nonprofits need to be sure they're keeping up and 2014 presents more opportunities than previous years.

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