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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Recommendations for nonprofits to leverage technology

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In the Journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Seung-Chul Yoo and Minette Drumwright provided data from 2017 indicating that “…86 percent of U.S. nonprofits used some form of online fundraising and 61 percent of donors worldwide reported that they prefer to give online.”  While the majority of nonprofits are using technology to increase donations, it is not always being utilized efficiently and successfully.

Technology, in all facets, is ever changing and will continue to grow as an influencer on nonprofit fundraising efforts. This is primarily due to younger generations continued utilization of digital platforms. The amplified use will continue to benefit nonprofits as one of the most cost-effective fundraising mechanisms.

Organizations can better leverage technology through first recognizing three notions. The first is that social media is a small donor platform. Meaning that donations are not large in dollar amount, but they are large in quantity of donations obtained. The second is that motivations of donors that prefer to utilize technology to donate varies from other subsets. Primarily, those that donate via digital platforms do so because they are influenced by their social network, not by what an organization accomplishes. Lastly, the social network effect will impact success in a positive way. The more messages an organization puts on social media, the more likely it is that these messages make it to an abundance of outside networks. With these notions in mind, nonprofit organizations can take advantage of the opportunities that technology provides.

Below are six recommendations on how nonprofits can leverage technology:

  1. Build a team of tech and social media savvy individuals. When nonprofits create a team of people that understand the inner workings of technology and social media, it provides the organization with the knowledge and expertise to be successful. These individuals should be able to guide the organization in the best direction when it comes to what platforms will provide the greatest return on investment and how to appeal to diverse populations via social networks to aid in greater attainment of organizational outcomes.
  2. Build relationships with donors over social media. Begin with promoting transparency over these platforms because it builds trust. In this digital age, most information is not private. In addition, nonprofits should provide their networks with an abundance of compelling information and messages that motivate them to action. This demonstrates that the organization wants to engage their networks to fulfill their mission.
  3. Capitalize on hashtags that already exist. When organizations utilize an already trending hashtag, their visibility increases exponentially to outside populations. Individuals that are looking to donate to nonprofits, can more easily find organizations that capitalize on a specific hashtag.
  4. Add interactivity to donor messages. One way to do so is by including compelling pictures, videos, hyperlinks, text and oral prompts on the organization’s website and social media messages. By successfully capturing donors’ attention, organizations will drive donors to action. Another tool of interactivity is to obtain a celebrity endorsement. By doing so, it prompts potential donors to investigate why a certain celebrity is endorsing an organization. This leads to more views on an organization’s website and social media platforms, increasing the probability for donations.
  5. Review resources being provided to individual fundraisers. Tools such as campaign toolkits, organizational communication and an easy to use donation website, are important to success for individuals participating in a peer-to-peer online fundraising campaign. Organizations should ensure that they are supplying the best and most up to date tools they possibly can. Remember, these individuals are working on behalf of the organization.
  6. Utilize new fundraising features on Facebook and Instagram. A new “sticker” tool is available on both social network platforms. This is utilized by a user attaching it to their story for all of their network to view. These tools provide easy access to an organization’s donation platform. Donors do not even have to leave the mobile application or website to do it, making it easy and efficient.

Not every recommendation will suit every organization. Keeping that in mind, the leadership and management teams of nonprofit organizations should dive into the recommendations and determine what changes they can implement to improve their attainment of donations, through the use of technology.

Kim Roe is a graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. Roe works for United Health Services, a not-for-profit healthcare organization, in the Radiation Oncology office. She has volunteered in the nonprofit sector for the last seven years, primarily in a fundraising capacity, with a passion for cancer organizations. Her current job has provided her the opportunity to grow her passion for the philanthropic sector by allowing her to lead the organization’s participation in their local Relay for Life event. She is hopeful to apply the knowledge she has gained through her education, professional and volunteer experience by working with a nonprofit organization that aids cancer patients and their families. 


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