As in any industry these days, technology utilization in nonprofit organizations is on the rise. Nonprofits are using technology to shape everything from how they communicate to how they fulfill their missions with greater efficiency and effectiveness than ever before.
In a Harvard Business Review article on the smart tech transformation occurring in nonprofits, Allison Fine and Beth Kanter summarize,
“The use of smart tech by social service agencies and other nonprofits exploded during the pandemic. For example, food banks deployed robots to pack meals; homeless services agencies used chatbots to give legal and mental health advice; and fundraising departments turned to AI-powered software to identify potential donors. At many nonprofits, smart tech is becoming integrated into internal workflows, fundraising, communications, finance operations, and service delivery efforts, freeing up staff to focus on deeper societal changes that need to be made — such as addressing the root causes of homelessness in addition to serving homeless people. While smart tech helped scores of nonprofits to pivot to suddenly remote and digital delivery of programs and services at the start of the pandemic, it may also enable them to turn the page on an era of frantic busyness and scarcity mindsets to one in which nonprofit organizations have the time to think and plan — and even dream.”
And while most nonprofits do not have the budgets nor the expertise required to implement sophisticated AI like robot workers or drones, virtually all nonprofits have found new ways to use technology or improve their existing technology usage over the last few years.
The following areas are places where tech usage has transformed how nonprofits are operating in this new age:
One of the most obvious ways in which technology can benefit nonprofits is to improve communication. Internally, technology like Slack, Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and Chanty can facilitate real-time digital communication among geographically dispersed teams. The result is more efficient workflows and improved project management to meet their mission objectives. Externally, the right technology can be used to achieve better messaging to key stakeholders and the public. Technology facilitates external communications that are timelier and more regular to keep stakeholders in the loop.
Engagement & Impact
Nonprofit digital engagement platforms like CommUnity, Breezio, Hivebrite, Thrive, and Mobilize allow nonprofits to bring supporters together to create community around their cause. These types of platforms as well as other technology like live chat and dynamic help resources allow organizations to expand their reach, serving a larger audience for greater impact. Furthermore, they can reduce the organization’s staffing needs, allowing them send fewer employees out in the field. This staffing shift is a major win for nonprofits right now as hiring is not only costly but also time consuming.
Nonprofit donation platforms like FundraiseUp, Donately, Qgiv, and Donorbox help nonprofits raise funds more easily by enabling online giving. These types of platforms can both expand an organization’s reach to a wider audience of potential givers as well as encourage existing donors to give more.
Furthermore, when organizations can use technology to reduce the operational cost of soliciting donations, their Cost of Raising Funds decreases. As a result, they have more money available to put towards achieving their core mission.
In addition to reducing nonprofit operating costs technology can also improve an organization’s financial management across a wide variety of areas, including:
- Better data collection
- Improved financial analysis
- Streamlined reporting
- Improved cash flow management
- Better resource allocation
- More informed strategic planning
- An increased ability to meet compliance requirements
Additionally, better financial management can also improve an organization’s fundraising efforts by showcasing its value to donors. In an article for nonprofits on using technology to prove their value to donors, Sevetri Wilson explains this point further in saying,
“As grants become more competitive and grantors become more focused on concrete outcomes, nonprofits that understand how to gather and deliver hard data, engage with grantors more productively, and prove that they’re using investments to enact real change will have an edge. The days when foundations and other donors would just cut a check and hope for the best are over. But this is a healthy development. Nonprofits can welcome the chance to demonstrate their effectiveness and deploy every tool available to help prove their value.”
By using the right technology nonprofits can gauge their successes more concretely using hard data and then share that information with donors to encourage their ongoing charitable giving.
For these reasons, a good nonprofit CFO should be comfortable with using technology like QuickBooks and other financial tools to steward their organization’s finances. However, not every organization has a formal CFO position. In some organizations, this role is handed off to the Executive Director, CEO, or COO. In these instances, the amount of tech-focused financial acumen that leadership brings to the role will be highly variable, which is why organizations without strong financial leadership can benefit from bringing in a consulting CFO to help them keep their financial operations modernized. Utilizing nonprofit financial consulting can facilitate better alignment with technology to aid in strategic planning and improve outcomes. Reach out to us today to find out more!