Five nonprofit tech trends to watch in 2019

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Digital technology will create opportunities but also upheaval for nonprofit groups, according to a forecast for 2019 technology trends.

Nonprofit Tech for Good, a resource for nonprofit professionals that boasts more than a million followers, published the forward-looking article by Ray Gary, the CEO of iDonate.

Gary predicted that marketing automation software would help groups develop more targeted engagement with donors.

A Forbes article on marketing automation software cited Marketo as a top choice for enterprise companies, and HubSpot or Act-On as solid choices for mid-market companies.

These forms of software “make it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage your content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel,” the Forbes article noted.

Gary touted marketing automation software as a valuable tool to highlight a nonprofit group’s mission or its programs and build deeper bonds with donors.

In his second prediction for 2019 technology trends, Gary foresaw a push to develop recurring donors.

“Turning one-time givers into recurring donors remains one of the largest issues for nonprofits,” Gary wrote. “The benefits of recurring gifts are obvious — more predictability in funds and the ability to plan operations. However, a recurring-gift donor base requires a commitment to engagement strategies and technologies that nurture donors and make them feel connected to your organization on a more regular basis.”

Gary used Netflix as an example of a service that delves into its users’ personal tastes: “Think Netflix. If all I watch are action movies, the system isn’t going to recommend a drama… Amazon uses similar technologies to make recommendations, and consumers (and donors) are beginning to expect this same level of sophistication in their interactions with other groups and organizations they work with. Increasingly, that expectation includes non-profits, and more will start deploying the software that makes it possible.”

In his fourth 2019 tech trend prediction, Gary anticipated that Facebook would continue to streamline its charitable giving system, noting how the company recently removed fundraising fees for nonprofits. He also notes that Facebooks move to remove fees could “unseat nonprofit players like GoFundMe and GlobalGiving that charge a fee as a part of their business model.”

The disruption of how organizations engage in philanthropy could continue to escalate as Facebook matches donations and taps donor data, Gary adds.

Finally, Gary expects nonprofit operators to reconsider their definition of effectiveness, explaining that “more funders and philanthropists are moving away from the ill-defined and wrong-headed focus on overhead, specifically limiting administrative spending as an indicator of a nonprofit’s effectiveness.”

The National Council on Nonprofits noted that groups have weathered criticism of overhead costs for things such as management, fundraising and program expenses.

“The belief that overhead is negative is changing,” the council wrote. “Indeed, more people are realizing that costs may have nothing to do with how effective a nonprofit is. In fact, overhead that is too low can be of more concern. Instead the focus is shifting toward a nonprofit’s impact and effectiveness.”

“As more nonprofits realize they need to reorient to a business mindset, investing in technology will create opportunities to truly assess organizational health as well as cost per outcome,” Gary concluded.