Digital Technology in the not-for-profit Sector

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Not-for-profit (NFP) organisations are vital to the health and wellbeing of communities and provide critical funds and services to people who otherwise might fall through the cracks. As they don’t operate for profit or personal gain, they generally have a goal or mission to fulfil. Programmes and initiatives focus on society’s problems and give a voice to specific issues, fostering necessary change for the better.

In Australia, the not-for-profit sector is large and varied, with an estimated 600,000 NFP organisations including approximately 5000 trusts and foundations and ancillary funds. (Source: philanthrophy.com.au). NFPs include charities that provide aid and care to the needy and disadvantaged, advocacy groups, environmental and animal welfare groups, educational foundations, and medical research organisations.

NFPs in the post-pandemic era

Covid-19 turned the world on its head and many businesses lost revenue and barely survived through the lockdowns. NFP organisations, many of which are charities that rely on fundraising revenue to operate and fulfil their mission, were hit hard. When faced with unemployment and uncertainty, donors tightened their belts and donations dropped off. Lockdowns led to the cancellation of fundraising activities, reducing revenue even more – leading to an urgent review of online fundraising initiatives
In the post-pandemic era, the not-for-profit sector needs to maintain social and financial support in a challenging funding environment. NFPs must plan, strategize, and work smarter just like their for-profit counterparts to sustain and expand their reach and serve their communities. Digital technology will increasingly play a crucial role in the success of not-for-profit organisations in the future, so it’s important NFPs evolve with technology and maximise how this is implemented to ensure long term success.

Digital technology for NFPs

Australians have embraced the internet and demand online engagement for day-to-day activities like shopping and banking. With digital technology, NFPs can expand their reach and increase their ability to serve their community and partners.

How NFPs can use digital technology?

⦁ Communication – Email newsletters can be used to create awareness, keep donors, volunteers, and subscribers informed about current programs, fundraisers, and events. Electronic communication will also reduce printing and mailing costs.
⦁ Automation – Prefilled forms for volunteers, subscriptions, new memberships, donor contributions are cost-effective as the user fills in the details and manual administrative tasks are eliminated.
⦁ eCommerce – gift shop, literature, medical/assistance aids can be purchased directly from the organisation.
⦁ Internal Workflow – Recordkeeping, finance operation, communication and protecting assets with cloud-based solutions.
⦁ Online Education – Remote and digital delivery of services and programs and accreditation.
⦁ Online Fundraising – Virtual events, auctions etc are cost-effective and pandemic proof.
⦁ Virtual Volunteers – Mobilise online volunteers who can help remotely.
⦁ Accountability and transparency – Ability to track and report on performance to stakeholders.
⦁ Compliancy – Be compliant with financial laws and regulators

WCAG Compliance – Guidelines to make web applications accessible to people with disabilities

The right technology for your NFP

It’s challenging for NFPs to find the best technology for their needs.

To begin with, you need to understand your audience and what you are trying to accomplish within your organisation.  For an NFP the audience could include administration/management, donors, volunteers, people in need and the community. Organisational procedures need to cover all internal and external processes and activities.

The next step is to create an IT plan that addresses which technologies to use and the cost. IT costs should include development, training and maintenance, equipment, privacy, platforms, and security.

Current technology must-haves for an NFP

Digital Technology is fast-moving and there is a wide range of options available which can be confusing. The following digital technologies are fundamental for every NFP:

Websites

Websites are the lifeblood for communication and presenting information to a wider audience. They generate awareness and can reach out to multiple stakeholders. The website can be expanded to incorporate education, accepting donations, eCommerce and events.

Mobile Responsive Website

A lot of people are now using their mobile phones and tablets to access websites. A responsive website is coded to automatically respond to different sized screens. This delivers a better user experience because text and images automatically resize for the device. Mobile responsive websites also search engine friendly.

Mobile Apps

Many for-profit organisations have a website and also mobile apps. Considering that Australians are prolific mobile users it could be a lost opportunity for NFPs to not consider a mobile app for volunteering, fundraising, donations and event signups. The advantages are that they offer greater personalisation, work faster than websites, and you can send through push notifications to get your message across to your audience quickly.

The right tech partners

NFPs who do not have internal tech experts on hand can be overwhelmed with how to get started or how to plan a strategy to evolve existing platforms. If the board members or employees are not tech-savvy, it is crucial to get a trusted software development company like Enterprise Monkey on board to support you with these goals.

The right tech developer will do their due diligence and have a process to learn about the NFP, the audience, stakeholders and create user personas to determine how to develop the application.

The right developer will then work with the NFP to clearly define the project scope in order to get an estimate and cost for the website or web/mobile app development.

This stage in the process is vitally important to get right, as it will become the reference point to the entire development process and define what the end product will look like.

A good development company will take the time to workshop this with the NFP, ensuring that every function, feature and backend requirement has been captured before commencing any development work.

Enterprise Monkey offers an exciting service, our Rapid Wireframing Workshop where we discover and define the scope of a project and deliver user stories, wireframes, tech stack recommendations and a cost estimate. Contact us for more information on what’s included and how to make a booking.

NFP Vision Australia and technology

Vision Australia is a great example of an NFP that is using digital technology to engage with donors and raise revenue. They are doing some innovative developments with their Drupal ecommerce platform, which we are very excited to be involved with. We look forward to sharing more details of how Vision Australia has embraced digital transformation and how this has impacted the way their NFP operates in the near future.

 

Conclusion

To stay viable in the post-pandemic era NFPs must adopt technology to maintain and expand their reach and maximise their donation and profit margins.
Digital transformation will increase their capacity to do more by becoming more efficient and competitive. NFPs will be empowered to respond to future adverse events and continue to serve their intended community and actualise their mission.