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4 Ways Technology Can Increase Non-Profits Efficiency
As technology develops, automating some tasks can ease the burden of manual labor and allow non-profit organizations to spend more time on fundraising and furthering their respective causes. However, the day-to-day bustle of internal management can still pose a challenge.
Spending too much time, resources, or money on maintaining a non-profit can prevent it from growing. Even worse, administrative costs have the potential to inhibit a non-profit’s mission. As donors become increasingly invested in transparency, many are choosing to give to organizations that put the most funding possible toward their causes. That means non-profits everywhere need to cut internal costs so that donations can be used to further the mission. Non-profits who can use their resources efficiently are more equipped to achieve this goal.
That is why we’re presenting the top 4 ways that technology can make non-profits more efficient:
- The cloud can cut costs.
- CRMs centralize data.
- Communications technology enables a diverse strategy.
- Online fundraising solutions simplify the donation process.
Efficient use of funds is essential for non-profits to maintain a positive reputation with donors and ultimately accomplish their mission. Let’s discuss each point in more detail.
1. The Cloud Can Cut Costs
Many non-profits are already using cloud-based technology, even if they don’t realize it. Cloud computing is simply the process of using the internet to run applications and store data through shared services.
Popular examples of cloud computing services include:
- File storage
- Social networking
- Web conferences
- Office productivity
- Donor databases and CRMs
- Accounting software
- Web-building tools
It’s important to note that not every iteration of these services will be cloud-based. The big takeaway from this list is that cloud computing powers many versions of those services. Cloud computing solutions can save non-profits time and money with their efficient processes.
Cloud-based technologies can centralize the tools non-profits need to complete a variety of tasks using the convenience of the internet. Not only can staff members run many different applications at once online, but fundraising-specific technology often provides multiple tools in a single service. CRM software, for example, often offers storage for donor profiles as well as the tools to schedule stewardship, segment communications, and analyze data fields.
With cloud computing, non-profits and other organizations do not have to specialize their technical expertise to the same extent as they would otherwise. For example, online fundraising software and web-building tools can limit the need for non-profits to have in-depth knowledge of CSS or HTML.
Cloud-based solutions offer more than just the convenience of being online; they also usually offer “techsperts” who can manage their services technical challenges and offer support when something goes awry. Plus, most cloud computing solutions will update automatically, meaning that you can continuously grow and advance your technology (as long as you’ve chosen a great provider for your services) without worrying about the hassle of keeping your platform up to date.
Cloud-based technology can be used anywhere you have an internet connection. Not only does this add a great deal of flexibility to an organization’s operations, but it also cuts down on the costs of paper. In summary, cloud computing can increase a non-profit’s efficiency by:
- Offering a variety of essential tools, from everyday email applications to more complex fundraising databases.
- Strengthening critical internal operations, such as accounting, so that non-profits can dedicate more time to their mission.
- Limiting the need for a complex IT infrastructure within a non-profit.
- Providing location-agnostic services.
- Cutting paper costs, as well as expenses associated with licensing software and hardware.
- Growing and developing with technological advancements, so that non-profits don’t have to continuously purchase new software.
2. CRMs Centralize Data
When it comes to fundraising software, non-profit CRMs or donor databases are some of the most important tools for storing and interpreting your donor data.
Imagine that you’re trying to paint a picture, but the paintbrushes are stored on one side of the room and the paint is on the other. Every time you want to paint a brushstroke, you have to walk back and forth across the room. This tiring exercise is akin to the struggle that non-profits without comprehensive management software face on a daily basis.
Smaller or newer non-profits may rely on manual data entry, using spreadsheets to keep track of donors’ valuable personal information. This process is not the most efficient. Like the struggling painter, staff members have to constantly switch between programs, which limits their ability to envision the non-profit’s larger fundraising strategy.
CRMs are an important advancement in non-profit technology that can simplify perfunctory data entry tasks and improve a non-profit’s overall fundraising strategy. After all, CRMs centralize various fundraising tasks so that your staff members can easily access your non-profit’s data across campaigns.
That’s why quality fundraising software should offer CRM integration. Qgiv, for example, can automatically upload donor data captured from its donation pages into a compatible CRM. That way, the information is systematically loaded into your database without your non-profit having to lift a finger. Once non-profits have the data that they need, they can use it to improve their overall fundraising strategy.
Since various data fields are localized in one space, these fields can interact with each other and provide a better picture of a non-profit’s donors. After all, donors are real people — their data must be analyzed comprehensively to better understand their impact potential and their giving patterns.
With better knowledge of donors comes better fundraising execution; CRMs allow non-profits to segment donors and schedule communications, from fundraising appeals and asks to thank you letters and other stewardship materials. Some CRMs even have event planning features, so that non-profits can easily make informed, data-driven decisions regarding their fundraising events.
Though CRMs are important for keeping track of your donors, they can also be used to manage a non-profit’s staff, board members, and volunteers. After all, your CRM is a centralized location to host all of your non-profit’s data, which you’ll need if you want to use employee management tools or software.
This APS resource shows the information that organizations and businesses should maintain for their employees. Just like donor profiles, these data fields need to be filled out for optimized management. In summary, CRM software can increase a non-profit’s efficiency by:
- Centralizing donor, volunteer, staff, and board member data in one convenient space.
- Allowing different data fields to interact with each other, presenting a more complex picture of a non-profit’s donors.
- Providing communications and marketing features so that non-profits can easily contact specific donor groups at the right times.
- Integrating with online fundraising software so that information captured from various sources can be automatically uploaded into the database.
- Informing a non-profit’s overall fundraising strategy through data-driven analysis.
3. Communications Technology Enables a Diverse Strategy
Marketing and communications technology is at the peak of innovation. Nonprofits can leverage these advancements to better communicate with and engage their donors. Technology has dramatically expanded the available communications providers and tools that can help non-profits. Plus, advancements in technology allow non-profits to reach donors through mobile devices more quickly than they have previously with mailed appeals.
With so many options available, it’s important that non-profits maximize their efficiency by tracking their donors’ preferred communication channels. Paying attention to donors’ preferences is one of the most efficient ways to reach them effectively. After all, a donor’s preferred communication tells you how they want to interact with your non-profit. Paying attention to these preferences can help non-profits send more effective communications with a higher ROI on each one.
After all, sending a few powerful appeals in a channel that a donor is likely to engage with is a much more promising strategy than blasting all of your donors with communications that they may not even respond to. That’s why it’s important that non-profits pay attention to the multitude of ways that they can communicate with donors. These channels include, but are not limited to:
- Mailed materials
- SMS software
- Phone calls
- Social media
- In-person conversations
- Mobile apps
Communications channels can also be specialized to an organization’s needs. Churches, for example, can make use of weekly bulletins or text-to-tithe software. Whatever resources are available to your organization can be utilized.
In addition to communication channels, organizations need to invest in donation channels to round out a donor’s engagement. For example, if your non-profit texts donors asking for donations with SMS software, you should have text-to-give software to accept donations from their mobile devices. In this instance, prioritizing convenience is important for ensuring that donors follow through with their donations.
Likewise, events can present their own unique communications challenges. One of the best charity auction ideas is investing in mobile bidding software so that donors can give directly from their phones. This communication channel offers an effective solution for gathering more bids. The point is that a wise investment in communications technology can help your organization meet your donors’ giving preferences.
In summary, communications technology can make non-profits more efficient by:
- Offering a variety of channels that can appeal to more donors’ preferences.
- Sending more effective, targeted communications instead of mass appeals.
- Allowing donors to give instantly after they’ve received a communication from a non-profit.
- Meeting the niche needs of specific fundraising events and campaigns.
- Reducing the waste from unopened communications.
4. Online Fundraising Solutions Simplify the Donation Process
Donating should be as simple, accessible, and intuitive as possible. After all, the last thing a non-profit wants to do is to deter a donor from giving due to a long or complicated process. Donation pages and other fundraising solutions are becoming more and more optimized as technology develops. Specifically, online fundraising software is often:
- Mobile friendly
- PCI compliant
- Easily integrated
With these advances, non-profits can create branded donation pages for specific fundraising campaigns. These donation pages are not only user-friendly for non-profits (many have eliminated the need for extensive knowledge of CSS or HTML), but they’re also intuitive for donors.
Donation page research across non-profit and church giving pages shows that simpler is better. Online fundraising software generally takes these analytics into account, creating solutions that emphasize convenience and simplicity so that more donors follow through with giving. When using online fundraising software, non-profits would do well to eliminate unnecessary data fields and structure their donation forms such that:
- Donors do not have to make an account to give.
- Donors need only fill out necessary personal and payment information.
- A single, large “Make a Donation” style button directs donors to submit their gifts.
- No other links lead donors away from the page.
- Giving tiers allow donors to quickly select a predetermined donation amount.
- Receipts are emailed to donors within 24 hours to confirm their gift.
The best online fundraising software incorporates these best practices into their models, allowing non-profits to create pages based on the most up-to-date fundraising research. A simple donation process is an efficient process. After all, if donors can give instantly without taking much time out of their day, then they’ll be more inclined to give again. Likewise, your organization can instantly process the gift, receive valuable data on a donor (that will be transferred into a CRM), and begin stewarding the donor with automated (but personalized) receipts.
In summary, online fundraising software can make non-profits more efficient by:
- Simplifying the donation process so that it’s convenient and intuitive for donors.
- Maintaining legality with PCI compliant payment processing software.
- Automating donation receipts to steward donors.
- Integrating with CRMs and transferring donor data as it’s received.
See what you accomplish!
For comprehensive information on accepting online donations, this iATS guide can lead you through the process.
With the daily challenges of operating a non-profit, it can be easy for an organization to use funds inefficiently. Doing so ultimately hurts the non-profit’s mission. Staying up-to-date on the latest technology can cut costs, simplify complicated processes, and free up resources so that the cause can always be the number one focus!
About the Author
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.
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