The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Five tectonic technology shifts changing our world, our work and our potential

The title of this post is the name of a speech I gave yesterday in Charlotte for the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program. I want to share the trends I named and the takeaways for us. Thanks to everyone who was there live! Feel free to post any comments or questions.

1. The messenger shift

The idea: Technology has enabled people’s most trusted sources – those they perceive to be their peers – to become the most influential and amplified messengers in their lives. We are no longer the messengers in chief of our causes.

The takeaway: You are not your most effective messenger, so use technology to amplify other voices. You want at least three kinds of messengers:

– People on the front lines of your work (front lines staff, volunteers, beneficiaries) who can speak authentically about the change they see
– Fans who will champion your work within their circles of influence
– People with credibility and authority who can attest to the quality of you and your work (ratings agencies, thought leaders who offer endorsement)

2. The social action shift

The idea: Technology has made it easy for people to take small, easy actions in support of a cause. This has been dubbed slacktivism by some, which sounds dismissive. But so-called slacktivists often have large circles of influence and are more likely to spread the word, volunteer and donate down the road.

The takeaway: Don’t write off slacktivists.

– Enable and celebrate slacktivism through technology
– Lower the bar for engagement especially on social media
– Use the social proof of those collective actions to get momentum behind your cause
– Build off the baby steps of slacktivists by cultivating them specifically and encouraging more action over time

3. The message shift

The idea: The wealth of information and insights we have about people online is driving an increasing expectation of personalization of our outreach – and participation in our messages and cause. We want to speak to our supporters based on their interests – without crossing the spooky line.

The takeaway: One message for everyone isn’t enough.

– Mine your data
– Segment your supporters
– Relate your cause to their values
– Use technology to put the donor at the center of your story

4. The medium shift

The idea: Just this week, we learned there are 1 BILLION smartphones on the planet. One in seven people on the earth have the ability to do so many things at their fingertips. This could be an unprecedented opportunity to unleash generosity through technology.

The takeaway: First, assess how you’re doing given how many people are reading your emails, visiting your site and learning about your organization on their phones. Read your organization’s emails on your smartphone. Visit your site from your smartphone. Try to give. Try to pledge. See what happens when you try to move across devices as most people do – from desktop to tablet to phone. Then…

– Recognize the opportunity (the chance to reach people more immediately) and the constraint (mobile experiences need to be simple and easy)
– Optimize for giving and pledging

5. The mind shift

The idea: Thanks to advances in technology and brain science, we know more than ever about what motivates people to give. What you say and how you say it matters more than the technology itself. To readers of this blog, you know the takeaways already!

The takeaway: Base your appeals in emotion. Make them personally relevant to supporters. Speak to their values. And show who else is taking action.

I think these trends are tremendously exciting to our work, but at the same time, remember the most important thing of all — HOW people use technology is more important than what is the hottest new device or social network. Use technology to make what people want to do, easier and more compelling. Technology doesn’t inspire people. You do.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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