Expertise Beyond the Numbers

2019 Non-Profit Technology Trends

Traditionally, non-profits are not the early adapters of technology and they are not considering it as part of their strategic planning initiatives. However, non-profits of today are evolving and finding that with evolution comes the need for the implementation of enhanced technology.

2019 will be a defining period of time for many non-profit organizations. As technology and availability become more attainable for these organizations, the gap between non-profits and other organizations will close.

Entering into the New Year, there are four pivotal trends that will affect non-profits throughout the year:

Cybersecurity remains a pervasive issue for organizations of all types, not just non-profits, but its importance will reach new heights for non-profits in the coming year. Cyber threats are at an all time high, and non-profits are quickly becoming a favorite target among cyber criminals. This is because many non-profit organizations house sensitive data that contains personal information, credit card and social security numbers, and oftentimes healthcare information.

While threats may be at an all time high, the cost to procure the necessary cybersecurity is reaching an all time low. Over the past few years, the cost to procure the top security measures has dropped considerably and is now a reasonable cost for many non-profit organizations.

Some specific tools that are driving interest by non-profits are multi-factor authentication, single sign-on controls, and real-time scanning of links and attachments to assess threats. Another measure organizations are taking is conducting thorough cyber security training. Not just for their IT personnel, but for their general staff to be able to detect threats and respond accordingly when one is present. Many of these cutting-edge tools and technologies that are becoming available for the first time to non-profits have the added benefit of being incredibly user friendly, including how users interface with these enhancements and straightforward training.

Adopting Cloud Software
Cloud technology is the furthest thing from a corporate buzzword, and non-profits are beginning to recognize its critical role in operating the organization. Even in 2019, a surprising number of organizations are still running what’s known as a legacy package, or a system that requires a substantial server tucked away in a closet somewhere. Built in the late 90s or early 2000s, these systems tend to be used as Constituent Management Software for keeping records and tracking information on donors, members, and important research information. The issue with these legacy systems is they are often very time-consuming, difficult to use, and not typically aligned with modern organizational processes. The coming year is the time to start adopting cloud-based software or at least looking into how to budget for an adoption. A lot of organizations are hesitant to invest in new software particularly in a world where they paid heavily upfront versus the cloud where they pay a monthly fee for the service. However, data around the cost of ownership on cloud systems consistently prove a cloud adoption is financially cheaper in the long run. Not only are cloud packages cheaper than legacy systems, they’re also more functional, provide better access to data, and streamline organizational processes. Many cloud systems are highly customizable and easily integrated with other tools and technologies, something that can become a major obstacle for outdated legacy systems.

Data Analytics and Data Quality
The significance of Artificial Intelligence is huge, and its widespread use among other organizations continues to demonstrate its impact. For non-profits, the implementation of AI technology into the organization can have massive benefits. With integrative tools and technologies, non-profits are able to use AI to create a very accurate and evolving 360-degree view of their donors. In the past, navigating immense amounts of data was nearly impossible and took a vast amount of personnel hours to interpret and analyze. Now, with the help of AI, non-profits are beginning to use these tools to identify things like when the right time to ask a donor for their next gift is, who is promoting their cause on social media and how to engage them further, what messaging is resonating with constituents and how to leverage that information, and who is most likely to attend their next charity event. In the coming months, AI will enable many non-profits to engage with their donor base and analyze important information like they’ve never done before. Just like with cybersecurity technology, the cost of ownership for these tools have dropped considerably and are just now becoming more affordable for average-sized non-profit organizations.

Modernizing Fundraising Technology
For every non-profit, the key component to continued success is good fundraising. The latest technology around fundraising is revolutionizing the way non-profit organizations obtain important donations. Not unlike their overall system software, many organizations haven’t kept up with the times when it comes to fundraising technology. This typically means their online approach isn’t geared towards a mobile friendly audience. With mobile-centric applications, non-profits are able to create a platform where donors can simply pull out their phone and make a donation at an event. New payment technologies like Venmo, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet are heavily utilized by younger donors – a demographic non-profits are struggling to reach more effectively. By incorporating these tools into a mobile friendly package, non-profits will no longer be losing out on a whole potential segment of their donor base, who would donate if they had these options available. Updating the technology around data collection online (interacting with email, form submissions) and automating much of the fundraising process is a big step non-profits will continue to make. This will enable organizations to raise the funds they need, but still be able to focus staff on actually delivering and carrying out their mission.

The resources technology offers non-profits are beyond measure. In the coming months the adoption of greater cybersecurity measures, use of cloud computing, deployment of AI and data analytics, and improving fundraising technology will present new opportunities for countless non-profit organizations.

2019 will be a year of significant action and growth for many non-profits, therefore as your year end is approaching, consider having a conversation with SC&H Group’s Technology Advisory team to determine which technologies are important for your organization to consider.

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