Dec 11 2019

5 Nonprofit Tech Trends to Watch in 2020

From AI and machine learning to automation, here are the trends to watch in the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits have a lot on their plates. Charitable giving took a hit last year, declining for the first time since the Great Recession, forcing organizations to do more with less. But technology can often help nonprofits make ends meet, bridging the gap between the resources available and the goals they’re trying to achieve for their causes.

Embracing digitalization is a must for organizations, and as things like automation, artificial intelligence and security become more accessible, nonprofits stand to benefit a great deal. These are the industry trends to watch for in 2020. 

1. Integrated Giving Will Grow

Technology has allowed people to donate to their favorite causes in more ways than ever before. With text-to-give capabilities, online giving and traditional checks through the mail all in play, there’s a growing need to keep all that fundraising connected, placing a higher emphasis on integrated giving.This is where customer relationship management services will play a growing role, with cloud-based CRMs proving particularly helpful. Microsoft, for example, offers its Dynamics 365, powered by Azure, which has the ability to draw information from different data centers all into one place. This kind of cohesion will become more important as the number of giving channels continues to grow.

2. More Nonprofits Will Expand Automation

Automation is one of the biggest tools that organizations can use to increase efficiency. Because nonprofits have limited resources to achieve their powerful missions, optimizing money and effort is particularly important, which is why most organizations already use automation in some form, with email blasts or other calls to action for donors. 

As automation technology continues to expand into other services, it could provide even more uses for nonprofits. Automating things like donor communications and internal accounting can free up staff time, while automating IT services such as data maintenance and security checks can free up resources to go directly to the goods and services provided by the organization. The more automation is used, the more nonprofits can get out of their staff and budgets.

3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Help Optimization

From donor communications to training staff, artificial intelligence and machine learning may have the potential to touch more aspects of the nonprofit industry than any other growing technology. Machine learning tools like those built into IBM Watson and Cisco Intuitive Networks can use data analytics to automatically personalize donor communications and use predictive analytics to get the most out of donors.

AI can also be paired with virtual reality to provide staff training for organizations that offer goods and services to people in places like war zones or natural disaster areas. As AI and ML become more accessible, nonprofits will find more ways to use them.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Learn about the key donor metrics that can help nonprofits boost contributions.

4. Donor Data Security Will Be a High Priority

Few things are more valuable to nonprofits than their donors. Without fundraising, organizations wouldn’t be able to carry out their missions. It’s important for those donors to feel that their information — and their money — is protected. 

Every organization should make sure it is prepared, starting with a cybersecurity assessment. A number of data storage and backup systems, like those powered by Azure, have built-in security precautions. Blockchain technology could even be a valuable tool for nonprofits, as it requires multiple points of verification. The number of ways people are donating is growing, and each one of them will need to be protected. 

5. Charities Will Expand Their Mobile Operations

For a long time, organizations had to adjust to donors moving online. Now, movement to mobile devices has again changed the game for philanthropy. The rise of text-to-give capabilities and mobile websites, as well as a workforce that’s working remotely more often, is forcing nonprofits to shift to a mobile-first way of thinking.

From making sure donors can give via systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay to using accessible services to create apps for their organizations, nonprofits have to make giving on the go as simple as possible. As mobile technology expands, nonprofits will have to grow with it.

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