Those working in the nonprofit sector have a lot to feel good about as 2017 continues to unfold. Giving Tuesday 2016 — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — generated record donations of $168 million in that 24-hour period, up 44 percent from $117 million in 2015. Donations to nonprofits also surged after the presidential election.
Yet for all the increased attention and donations, nonprofits still need to pay attention to technology trends to increase donor retention, maintain efficient operations, reach out to new audiences and potential donors and spread their message.
Last year was the second nonprofit edition of BizTech’s Must-Read IT Blogs list (after debuting in 2015), and for this year’s edition we looked to a mix of established favorites, corporate social responsibility blogs, and blogs that provide tech advice and opinions from practitioners with a lot of on-the-ground experience.
So without further ado, here is 2017’s Must-Read Nonprofit IT Blogs list for your edification and enjoyment. If your blog is one the list, be sure to grab a badge to share this recognition with your readers.
GuideStar USA is an information service that reports on U.S. nonprofit companies, and bills itself as "the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations." Guidestar, which is itself a nonprofit, has a blog that covers a wide range of nonprofit issues, including technology. The blog explores how to use tech to improve fundraising and not as a distraction, how to best use analytics, and how those who run nonprofits can use apps to relax and keep themselves from stressing out about all they have to do.
John Kenyon, a nonprofit technology educator and strategist, has been working with nonprofits for over 20 years. His blog provides practical advice on a variety of tech-related topics, including how best to use mobile devices and technology to offer crisis counseling, how to organize nonprofit websites, what tech questions nonprofit board members should ask about the organizations they oversee, and more. The posts offer practical, on-the-ground advice from someone who has been in the nonprofit trenches for decades.
When one thinks of churches, homilies, stained glass, pews and pulpits come to mind more quickly than technology. But in today’s world, even houses of worship need tech to maintain operations, connect with parishioners and reach out to their local communities. ChurchTechToday, which markets itself as “the #1 church technology website for pastors, communicators, and leaders,” offers insights on how software, social media and mobile technology intersect can be used by churches.
Idealware, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the authoritative source for independent, thoroughly researched technology resources for the nonprofit sector. The site features practical tips and guides, as well as links to reports, on how to best use technology. The guides cover a variety of topics, including moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, the pros and cons of bring-your-own-device policies, data migration and video conferencing services.
Today, most large corporations are expected to — and do — give back to the community in some way. Cisco's corporate social responsibility blog highlights the ways in which the networking giant uses its position in the industry to encourage more students to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), to get more young women involved in tech, and to generally improve communities around the world through its philanthropy.
Created and managed by nonprofit professional Heather Mansfield, author of the books “Mobile for Good” and “Social Media for Social Good,” Nonprofit Tech for Good offers a wide range of clear and concise news, information and resources related to nonprofit technology. The blog focuses on how nonprofits can use tech for fundraising and managing donations, but also touches on general technology trends to watch, the importance of social media and how the Internet of Things will impact nonprofits.
Are you a nonprofit professional who wants advice from your peers on whether to move to the cloud? Or perhaps a museum nonprofit professional who wants to learn more about the best software and hardware to use in your organization? TechSoup is the place to turn. The site offers a wide-ranging and robust community for sharing ideas, insights and advice related to nonprofit tech. Sit down, grab your spoon and savor the guidance.
SocialEarth bills itself as “the leading source for news and information about social entrepreneurship.” The website boasts more than 130 contributors in 25 countries, who write about the latest trends and provide analysis on socially and environmentally conscious news. The site's technology section covers a variety of topics, such as how nonprofits can take advantage of the cloud, the use of e-government in implementing sustainable development goals and tips on building and running a successful software donation program.
RallyBound, a startup founded in 2012, provides social networking, online marketing, and custom branding solutions to nonprofits to increase awareness and donations. The company says it was founded to “provide nonprofits with digital fundraising solutions that work the way fundraisers, donors and nonprofit professionals expect modern online services to work.” As a result, RallyBound’s blog is filled with tips and information about how nonprofits can incorporate modern technology — especially mobile — into their culture and operations.
Written by Nancy E. Schwartz, a nonprofit professional whose consulting provides marketing, planning and implementation services to a wide variety of nonprofits, the blog offers practical advice for optimizing real-world operations, including using data to power communications, determining the best online engagement system and more.
Norman Reiss is the force behind this blog, which focuses on nonprofit technology, communications and fundraising. Reiss is a senior project manager at the Center for Court Innovation, which focuses on reforming the justice system. Reiss regularly blogs about the intersection of tech and nonprofits, including how nonprofits can best use technology to increase donations, the importance of data and analytics, and how to get nonprofit workers to adopt new software.
Socialbrite helps nonprofits with a wide range of technology and social media best practices, including strategy, website design, community building, multimedia storytelling and fundraising campaigns. The website offers an open platform for anyone to contribute articles or posts, and its nonprofit experts share their insights and experiences from their work with charitable organizations, such as Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, the Knight Foundation and TechSoup Global. The site also touches on emerging tech trends, like apps that provide real-time information to relief workers, and how virtual reality can help nonprofits spread information about their work and bring potential volunteers and donors into the field.
NTEN, a 501(c)(3) organization, aspires to a world in which “all nonprofit organizations use technology skillfully and confidently to meet community needs and fulfill their missions.” The site offers in-depth commentary and real-world examples of how tech impacts nonprofits — and nonprofit professionals — on the ground. The organization’s site also offers a community discussion forum, and every month it produces a newsletter chock full of tips and news that both nonprofit IT leaders and organization owners can use to stay on top of their game.
One of the most well-established news sources for the philanthropic community, The Chronicle of Philanthropy is considered the nonprofit industry’s bible. An independent news organization that has been serving leaders, fundraisers, grantmakers, and others for more than 25 years, the publication offers a wide range of daily news on the philanthropic community. Its technology coverage tends to focus on major tech trends and figures in the nonprofit world, but it is definitely worth following.
IBM’s corporate social responsibility blog has a wide range of information on how the IT services firm is using its clout to give back to communities around the globe. This includes what the company is doing to encourage young women to get into cybersecurity and STEM and how IBM Watson is being used to help tackle youth unemployment in Belgium. The blog also touches on P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School), a system of innovative public schools spanning grades 9 to 14 that bring together the best elements of high school, college and career development.
Aimed at senior nonprofit decision-makers, Nonprofit Technology News focuses squarely on nonprofit technology, accounting, fundraising, reviews and new products. The site provides regular news updates on the software, IT and key tech players that affect the nonprofit world.
While it’s not a blog in the traditional sense, NetSquared does offer those in nonprofit tech a regular update on how nonprofits are using technology in the country and around the world A project of TechSoup, the blog consists of podcasts, updates from meetups, and advice. NetSquared brings together nonprofits and activists, technology leaders and funders — basically, anyone who is interested in using tech for social change. NetSquared’s volunteer leaders host free, in-person events every month in 60 cities, and the site serves as a great way for those in the #nptech community to network with one another and get fresh ideas.
Intel is a leader on corporate social responsibility, and the chipset giant’s CSR group publishes a blog that highlights its work in using its technology — and tech in general —for philanthropic initiatives. The blog highlights Intel’s focus on getting more students, especially young women and minorities, into STEM field.
Like The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Nonprofit Times is considered a source for front-page news in the nonprofit world. The site focuses largely on nonprofit management and offers advice and regular updates on industry news and trends. For those looking to keep track of the movers and shakers in the nonprofit world and where the industry is going next, this site is a must-read.
The Creating IT Futures blog, an extension of IT trade association CompTIA’s philanthropic arm, focuses largely on the work of the Creating IT Futures Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide IT training and certification to returning veterans and low-income students and adults, and then connect them with potential employers. The blog shines a spotlight on how to prepare for a career in IT, especially for those who are under-represented in the tech field today.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise's corporate social responsibility blog highlights “thought-provoking and inspiring stories and news about people, ideas and technology uniting to solve the world’s toughest challenges.” The blog focuses not just on volunteer efforts by employees and how the company is setting a science-based target to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions, but also how technology can be used to better people's lives on the ground by improving food production for small-hold farmers, ensuring access to healthcare systems for newborns and safeguarding access to clean drinking water.
Tech Impact is a nonprofit whose goal is to “empower communities and nonprofits to use technology to better serve our world,” achieve their mission and improve outcomes. The site has backing from JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Deloitte, Microsoft and SAP America, which helps it make the latest technologies — and expert technology help — accessible and affordable for nonprofits. Organizations like the William Penn Foundation and the Longwood Foundation also use Tech Impact’s expertise to help their grantees consider technology’s potential. The site often highlights how nonprofits can use Microsoft’s tools, including Azure, Office 365 and SharePoint, but also offers to-the-point and vendor-agnostic tech advice on such topics as modernization, the benefits of cloud phone systems and data management software.
npEngage focuses on a range of nonprofit news on fundraising, marketing, management and more. Its tech coverage includes topics such as when nonprofits should invest in new technologies, best practices for IT partnerships and how mobile technology is changing philanthropy. npEngage is sponsored by Blackbaud, which provides software and services specifically designed for nonprofits.
Care2 is one of the larger nonprofit charitable communities online, with nearly 40 million members around the world, and it has considerable reach and influence with nonprofits and donors. The organization claims that it works with hundreds of nonprofits and socially conscious brands to connect with its members and recruit new donors, members, supporters and customers. The organization manages a blog that focuses on nonprofit marketing and fundraising trends, how nonprofits can use social media for marketing, and tech trends for the sector.
Crowdfunding sites are nothing new and are more popular than ever — from Kickstarter and Indiegogo to GoFundMe, Crowdrise, Crowdfunder and more. Classy started in 2011 and is a crowdfunding platform designed specifically for nonprofits. The platform helps with event planning, fundraising and ticketing, and provides website tools for donations. Classy’s blog offers general information about online fundraising and nonprofit management, and also features regular updates on how organizations can take advantage of nonprofit technology to help with fundraising.