TechSoup@PND

Through an arrangement with TechSoup, PND is pleased to offer a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.

TechSoup's Nonprofit Tech Trends for 2020

TechSoup's Nonprofit Tech Trends for 2020

We predict 2020 is going to be a big year for nonprofit technology. In terms of fundraising alone, there are a ton of new innovations you need to know about. GoFundMe Charity will be a game changer, smart speakers will become an important fundraising channel, and the new ImpactMatters rating system will generate spirited debate about the value of your nonprofit.

We also look at proposed federal legislation aimed at incentivizing charitable giving by individuals, how podcasting is poised to become a thing for nonprofits, and something called called StratusLIVE, which we think might just become a new online nonprofit operating system.

We cover all that and more below! So without further ado, here's TechSoup's nonprofit tech trends for 2020:

A new online nonprofit operating system? My TechSoup colleague Stephen Delaney and I sometimes muse about what an online nonprofit operating system would look like. The people at StratusLIVE and Microsoft Philanthropies have come up with something that looks a lot like what we've imagined.

Here's what the new platform can handle:

  • Fundraising
  • Constituent management
  • Marketing and engagement
  • Case management
  • Financial processing
  • Program management
  • Events and volunteers
  • Grants management
  • Corporate social responsibility

The software is built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM platform, so it has the familiar Microsoft user interface, including Office and Outlook. Under the hood, the platform supports mobile devices, omni-channel marketing, and predictive analytics. And, of course, it is cloud-based and is already being used by the United Way of Greenville County in South Carolina, the United Way of Central Indiana, and the Georgia State Charitable Contributions Program.

Microsoft also recently launched the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator and the Common Data Model for Nonprofits, two critical initiatives aimed at helping nonprofit organizations leverage Microsoft technologies to drive greater impact and create open data standards for improved data collection and transparency. All of this amounts to a suite of technologies that will enable nonprofits to easily navigate between their existing Office products, the StratusLIVE donor management CRM, and other nonprofit tools. (For more information, email info@stratuslive.com.)

GoFundMe Charity as game changer. In November, GoFundMe, the crowdfunding platform, launched a new free fundraising platform for U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofits called GoFundMe Charity. At the same time, the organization — the biggest and most popular crowdfunding platform for individuals on the Internet — also launched a donate button that can be integrated into any WordPress website. The new platform, GoFundMe Charity, requires no upfront fees or contracts, beyond the standard transaction fee of less than 3 percent to cover the expense of credit card processing and the safe transfer of funds. (See our blog post about how to get started with the new GoFundMe service.)

Smart speakers as the future of nonprofit fundraising. Edison Research's Smart Audio Report found that Americans collectively now own 118.5 million smart speakers. What does that mean? People are talking more and typing less, as virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant become common household items. And you know what? By the end of 2020, 50 percent of all online searches will be initiated by voice.

The growing adoption of smart speakers works to the benefit of nonprofit organizations in that voice commands eliminate many barriers to donor engagement and provide potential donors with a level of ease and convenience they're likely to appreciate. Think about the steps involved in making a donation the old-fashioned way (manually writing a check or fumbling with a credit card and typing in the required information), and making one with a simple vocal command ("Alexa, make a donation to my favorite pediatric cancer organization"). In fact, there are already hundreds of nonprofits that offer a donate-via-Alexa option.  

If your organization wants to be one of them, it needs to be voice-search ready. Being voice-search ready means providing potential donors with up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible information about your organization. When a donor searches for business information by voice, the accuracy of the  information provided by the business (or your nonprofit) will determine whether you appear in search results. (For more on this technology, check out Everyaction.com's Nonprofit's Guide to Voice Command Fundraising.)

Facebook's simplified donation processing. In mid-November, Facebook unveiled a digital payment system called Pay that lets users make payments across its Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms. Which means that nonprofits can now add a donate button directly to the top of their Instagram profile. Have a look at this Forbes article describing how this fairly simple but useful new fundraising tool works.

The controversial new ImpactMatters rating system. Up to now, it's been almost impossible for donors and grantmakers to get solid information on the impact created by a charity's work. The new nonprofit rating service ImpactMatters aims to fix that. It rates similar nonprofits in a variety of subject areas (education, health, homlessness, etc.) and assesses how much good an organization achieves per dollar. "For example," as the New York Times explains, "a group that provides a meal for $2 when the cost in the area is $4 will get a higher rating than a similar group that provides a meal in that area for $5."

The goal is to help donors find the most cost-effective nonprofits in areas of interest where impact can be measured. As Nonprofit AF's Vu Le argues, however, good intentions are not enough to paper over flawed methodology. Our prediction for 2020? Expect lots more vigorous debate about the value of evaluating charity effectiveness based solely on the cost of services.

Universal Charitable Giving Act legislation. U.S. charitable giving by individuals is declining, and many people place the lion's share of the blame on the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There's been lots of pushback from nonprofits, and efforts to undo the most harmful parts of the bill are gaining momentum in Congress. In the fall, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) introduced a bill, the Universal Charitable Giving Act, that would introduce a universal charitable deduction to the tax code. Walker's bill would allow deductions for charitable giving up to one-third of the standard deduction cap, which amounts to about $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for a married couple annually. In 2020, we predict a growing chorus of nonprofit support for the bill. May the voice of the people be heard!

"Closing spaces." A long-term megatrend in the nonprofit, NGO, and civil society world, "closing spaces" refers to the growing tendency of authoritarian regimes to shutter NGOs and jail journalists who pose a threat to their illiberal rule. The nonprofit CIVICUS Monitor has been tracking the closing spaces trend and a new report from the organization finds that fully 40 percent of the world's population now lives under authoritarian rule — up from 19 percent in 2018. 

But there are rays of hope among the gloom. A recent podcast featuring Chris Delatorre, editor at Digital Impact, and Natalie Cadranel of OpenArchive focuses on that organization's new mobile app, Save, which safeguards digital evidence of human rights abuses by helping reporters and human rights advocates preserve and protect highly sensitive digital media.

Podcasting for nonprofits. The Journity blog predicts that podcasting will become a "thing" for nonprofits in 2020. As you probably know, podcasts are especially popular among millennials and young GenXers, who listen to them on their smartphones and when doing something else at home. For nonprofits, they're especially useful for delivering news, CEO updates, and trainings; demonstrating through leadership and "name-cause" recognition; exploring issues related to your mission; and sharing stories about the impact of your work.

On average, it costs about $200 to $500 and four hours of time to produce a single podcast episode. You'll also need a couple of microphones and recording software. (TechSoup recently presented a webinar on how to do a podcast. Check out the free recording here.)

The easiest trend in 2020 to predict. #GivingTuesday was bigger and better than ever this year, with a reported $511 million raised online in the United States alone. That's about $111 million more than last year's $400 million and an increase of almost 28 percent. In a somewhat charitable giving landscape, new records for#GivingTuesday 2020 are a trend you can bank on. 

And that's a look at our nonprofit tech trends for 2020. Hope you like 'em! No it's your turn; share your thoughts about trends in the coming year in the comments section below.