Expanding Networks & Platforms

Technology has the potential to improve every aspect of a nonprofit’s operations, but where do you start?

What is most important?

Time is precious to development professionals, and perhaps even more so to your high-value constituents. How do you know where you should invest the majority of your resources — time and money alike? Where should you rely on technology the most? Although your challenges may be numerous and ever-evolving, there are a few key areas in which technology can really make a difference.

Networks & Platforms 

The need to raise more money despite ever-increasing challenges means expanding your base  getting in touch with more prospects, with stronger inclination and propensity to support your organization  and getting them engaged in your fundraising program faster.

Networks & Platforms

1. Online Presence 

As we all know much too well (the authors unfortunately included), the web offers an infinite amount of ways to spend our time, and equally infinite means of marketing your message and mission. With individuals spending more and more time online every day, your website must offer virtual education, opportunity, and stewardship, as well as a compelling experience that will consistently engage users to visit the site, click through on an email campaign, or follow up on a social message, rather than doing one of an infinite number of other options. With that in mind, every option and design element presented to a user should be meaningful and relevant to your brand, mission, and desired outcomes for that user’s visit. 

Usability Experience specialists now argue for testing in eye movements, with page views being too long an increment to be useful, meaning that visitors should learn about your organization and the service it provides and be given an opportunity to donate in a self-service, secure environment that produces immediate acknowledgement. Perhaps more importantly, users should feel as though they have experienced something — helping the hungry, housing the homeless, fighting illness — providing a compelling reason for coming back. Integrating the design of usability, information, and data is the perhaps the quickest win in terms of making an immediate and measurable impact on constituents — and the only way to get users to return. 

2. Social Networking 

In a few short years, social networks have gone from strictly the domain of users with “.edu” email addresses to being almost universal  so much so that the rare individual not on Facebook ® or LinkedIn ® is very much the exception to the rule. Nonprofits are starting to realize how social networks could provide the ability to spread their missions to the masses, as well as serve as a supplementary or even primary acquisition channel. Not only can you deliver updates and announcements, you can leverage those who join your network and ask them to pass on the word the key to the Network Effect.

social network
Social Network

Keep in mind that the rules on social networking are completely different; in some ways you’re dealing with a different breed of constituent, not necessarily a donor or even a prospect in the traditional sense, and your opportunity to engage is shorter and more ephemeral than ever. That said, the fundamentals familiar to any fundraiser still apply: People engage with those recommended by friends and others they trust, and, as both veteran fundraisers and social media strategists can agree  relationships begin with conversations based on listening and meaningful engagement rather than one-way dialogue. 

3. Mobilization 

You are on the move; so are your fundraisers, and so are your constituents. In this era of smart phones and mobile technology, it is crucial to deliver accurate, up-todate information on your prospects and donors in real time. Gone are the days of memos and carbon copies delivered through interoffice mail to a data management team, with information being stuck in processing for weeks.

Mobile Major Giving tools are no longer a “nice-to-have” — there’s an app for that, and donors are coming to expect that your staff have access to latest and greatest details when on the road. Canvassers and solicitors need a means to file call reports in real time and input data directly into the system, cutting off unnecessary wait times for processing and identifying new opportunities at the same time. 

by: Meyda Azzahra