Non-profits need to become tech smart

From savvy millennials to retirees who have time and a wealth of knowledge under their belt, the way we give is increasingly becoming digital. Data released by www.forgood.co.za, a digital platform that connects people and corporates to reputable causes, shows that 26%, or one in four requests and volunteer interventions, are tech related. More than 13 000 social impact connections have been facilitated by the platform to date.

“Technology has opened up new revenue and engagement opportunities for pretty much everyone,” says CEO of forgood, Andy Hadfield. “This is no more apparent than in the non-profit sector – if you’re not leveraging technology, if you’re not open to technology as an acquisition, engagement and operational channel, then you’ll be left behind.”

As we move towards the age of the “social enterprise”, non-profits need to lower their reliance on donor funding by creating more sustainable business models. Charity, as we know it, needs to be reinvented. But how? Lack of tech knowledge, shoestring budgets and not knowing where to start, are the main contributing factors behind slow digital uptake in the non-profit sector.

“Google really is your friend,” says Hadfield. “Besides being able to diagnose your latest medical condition, the Google Ad Grants programme offers over R100 000 a month in free advertising to non-profits – yes FREE. Use it to attract donors, tell your story and raise awareness. It’s almost criminal if you’re an active non-profit and you aren’t leveraging this.”

Google Apps for Business (email, calendar and online storage, all on your own domain name) are also offered at no cost to non-profits through the Google Grants programme; “Forget fancy internal servers and complicated software providers, store and access your data on the Internet through Cloud based services instead,” says Hadfield. “With Cloud you can access your information from anywhere and, you don’t have to worry about those old faulty donated hard drives losing all your data.”

Some of the biggest issues facing non-profit organisations are getting the word out about their cause and raising money. “A presence on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram is a good start. But to ensure optimal engagement, don’t forget you need to pay-to-play. A small ad investment to a targeted audience could yield some serious donor cash and audience engagement,” says Hadfield. “Many organisations don’t know that the organic reach of social media is still around 2%. That’s the percentage of your audience you can reach without paying. Social media needs to be in your budget to really make it work for you.”

For additional revenue streams, instant payment portals such as SnapScan are becoming increasingly popular, as are simple e-commerce shops run through the likes of Shopify. Any non-profit (or small business for that matter), can have a fully functional online shop, beautifully designed with point-and-click pay / delivery features, for less than R1 000 per month.

“Think about the exponential impact your organisation could achieve if you started thinking with a digital mindset. Technology is not going away. It’s changed how we do business and how we interact with each other. It’s going to change how we give,” says Hadfield.

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