Mediaplanet recently interviewed Network for Good CEO, Bill Strathmann, for a supplement in USA Today. The series, Empowering Nonprofits, included a piece titled “Experts on How Technology Is Changing the Future of Fundraising,” featuring five leaders using technology to level the fundraising playing field for small nonprofits. You can read the full feature here but we wanted to share some of Bill’s answers directly with you.
How has technology changed fundraising?
Technology has leveled the fundraising playing field for small nonprofits who make up the vast majority of the sector…more than a million of them. To reach donors, direct mail was unaffordable, to fundraise online ecommerce was inaccessible, and to spread awareness social media was incomprehensible. Now, small nonprofits can manage donors with advanced technology that doesn’t require an advanced technology degree. Even companies like Facebook and Google have incorporated fundraising technology that empowers any consumer to fundraise for any charity…instantly. The small nonprofit has arrived.
Where do you see nonprofit technology in the next 5-10 years?
In the U.S., 75% of giving comes from individuals. That will continue, but the Gen X and Millennial generations will soon replace Boomers as the primary fundraising source, as Millennials (now already 22-38 years old) enter their income-generating years and as the $30T great wealth transfer begins. That means fundraising will be all about digital engagement and will follow the changes in consumer engagement we are already seeing today…the expectation, at your finger tips, for easy experiences, transparency, real-time communication, and tangible results/impact that can be celebrated virally. As a result, donor-nonprofit relationships will also shift to more “subscription” model programs and fewer “one-off” experiences…if nonprofits get it right.
What is your best advice for a nonprofit looking to upscale their fundraising impact?
Change your perspective. Netflix, Amazon, and Apple have changed consumer behavior to expect instant, curated, and relevant content that can be accessed anywhere at any time. For nonprofits those are tough expectations to match unless they shift their perspective such that nonprofits reframe the donor-nonprofit relationship from treating donors like ATM machines to serving donors with stories and content that provides compelling evidence of impact and rewards donors emotionally for their financial contribution. Donors are consumers and will pay and stay…as long as they continue to see and feel value from their contribution.
What are some of the most important functions of technology for nonprofits?
Data management is the most all-encompassing and important function of technology for nonprofits, especially now with cloud-based solutions that make accessibility unlimited, visualization understandable, storage costs nominal, and using it easy. The two functions that are runner-ups are marketing and communications automation and payments. Nonprofits need to be able to reach their people, tell their stories, and share their impact. And when it comes to payments, nonprofits do not have cash registers…and checks are going the way of the Dodo.
What is the biggest advantage of technology for the nonprofit sector?
I can’t choose one. I’ll name three. Efficiency. Reach. Data.