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Nonprofit Technology Trends for 2019

Here are some thoughts by NPTech cognoscenti on what we can expect in nonprofit technology 2019. We cover trends for the coming year in the areas of nonprofit tech, foundation tech, and church tech by the smartest people we could find. We hope you find our predictions surprising, informative, and maybe a bit unsettling. Welcome to nonprofit technology in 2019.

John Kenyon

When Marnie Webb, CEO at Caravan Studios, recently asked nonprofit techies via Twitter to contribute ideas for next wave of technology for nonprofits, John Kenyon wrote his response on his great blog. Here are a couple of his predictions for 2019.

More Collaborative Delivery of Digital Services

SafeChat Silicon Valley is the first collaboratively managed online peer counseling chat service in the United States for those impacted by domestic violence or intimate partner abuse. Providing digital services in a networked way, working in collaboration to do together what cannot be done alone, is the natural evolution of technology use in nonprofits.

Nonprofits Will Act on Cybersecurity

I know dozens of nonprofits whose systems have been hacked or networks compromised, costing them thousands of dollars. When I ask them to share their case study to help others avoid the same fate, they refuse. They are worried about how they will look as leaders.

But think what the cost would be to replace every piece of computer hardware in your organization, including any Internet-related hardware, servers, even printers and tablets. Add to the cost for someone to investigate the problem, help fix it, and set up all that new equipment including emails, websites, and so on. Plus the two weeks of lost productivity. Add in the cost of the cybersecurity insurance your board is likely to insist that you purchase to avoid such a catastrophic unexpected outlay of money. You are lucky if you get away without spending more than $50,000 to $60,000.

John Kenyon

John Kenyon is a nationally recognized authority on nonprofit technology and communications. He is an educator and consultant who's worked exclusively with nonprofits for over 25 years providing advice, teaching seminars, and writing articles. He is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and Sonoma State University.

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Sam Chenkin, Tech Impact

Impact Measurement

Modern tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning are teaching our organizations to make better use of our data. But for most of us that means catching up on the fundamentals. This trend is about learning to use evidence-based approaches to understand how our interventions have (or don't have) an impact on our communities.

Design Thinking

Our organizations are increasingly thinking outside the box to design new and scalable interventions to society's challenges. The startup world's techniques are increasingly seen in the sector where buzzwords like User Centered Design, Iterative Prototyping, and Design Thinking have started to fly. What does this trend really mean? Just that we as nonprofits should build new services in collaboration with our communities.

Feedback Loops

As our sector begins to embrace a faster pace of change, we need ways to understand our impact more quickly. Feedback loops use immediate data collection from surveys and other tools to give our staff an almost real-time understanding of how they are doing. When they are used well, we can understand how even small changes to our services improve or negatively impact our communities and shift course immediately.

Multifactor Authentication

It's not sexy, but it's definitely going to be the hot topic this year. With the constant threat of account compromise, nonprofits around the world are struggling to implement the one thing that really works. No matter what software you use, make sure that your logins are protected with a one-time-use code from a text message or mobile app.

Advanced Threat Protection

Many of our organizations are the target of hostile governments or activist hackers. For our organizations, multifactor authentication isn't enough. We'll spend this year implementing advanced tools like machine-learning-based log monitoring, sandbox detonation, and containerized encryption. In today's world, nonprofits often need to be even better protected than for-profit organizations.

Interactive Reporting

We can finally stop talking about dashboarding. This year's trend will be replacing all of those Excel spreadsheets and static reports with interactive web-based tools. These interactive reports — built on Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and Qlik to name a few, will allow everyone in our organizations to make data-driven decisions. It's not about looking pretty — it's about making data accessible.

Sam Chenkin

Sam Chenkin is the director of consulting services at Tech Impact. Sam is one of the big brains in nonprofit tech. Their responsibility is to help the nonprofit community think creatively about technology and find ways to harness it for true social change. Tech Impact is a Philadelphia-headquartered nonprofit that provides tech support to other charities around the world. It specializes in helping nonprofits use technology to be safer and more efficient and to unlock new approaches in service delivery.

Karen Graham, Idealware

Virtual Teams

For many years now, plenty of people have worked from home occasionally, and some nonprofit teams have had a handful of members who work remotely all the time. We might be at a tipping point where this is not the exception, but the norm. New technologies like robotics combined with 5G broadband make it possible for previously unthinkable categories of workers — such as surgeons! — to work remotely. In the gig economy, nonprofits will increasingly form ad hoc distributed teams with the aid of technology. And we will bring our understanding of relationships and collaboration to bear, becoming leaders in this practice even though we might be late arrivals.

Texting for Program Delivery

When I suggested texting as a trend, my Idealware colleague Chris Bernard warned that readers might react as if I had just now discovered cordless phones. Sure, texting has been around for a while and is widely adopted by individuals, including your Luddite grandma. But nonprofits are just starting to explore the possibilities of texting and its cousin, messaging, for supporting programs that involve forming healthy habits, for community organizing and citizen engagement, and for AI-powered self-service help.

Karen Graham

Karen Graham is the director of Idealware, a program of Tech Impact providing impartial, practical, and research-based knowledge resources to help nonprofits make smart technology decisions. She works at the intersection of people, strategy, and technology..

Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Blue Avocado

Marketing Automation

As nonprofits strive to generate more earned income, they will embrace marketing automation to create more personalized, relevant campaigns. This same technology will power more effective recurring giving efforts, and social media will play a key role as a communications and engagement channel in this. Plus they'll facilitate the creation of virtual affinity groups connected by a common cause or constituency.

Darian Rodriguez Heyman

Darian Rodriguez Heyman is the editor-in-chief of Blue Avocado, the popular online magazine that provides community-led nonprofits with practical, tactical tips and tools. Darian is also the best-selling author of Nonprofit Fundraising 101 and editor of Nonprofit Management 101.

Tom Bakewell, Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group

Mobile Giving

Now that almost 40 percent of website views and two-thirds of emails are opened on a small screen, more and more giving will migrate online and in particular via mobile devices. Donors of all ages are already practicing "surround sound philanthropy" by researching and finding causes on their devices, and over time it's inevitable they'll get more comfortable actually giving there.

Tom Bakewell

Tom Bakewell is VP of IT at Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, the organization that publishes Blue Avocado.

Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech for Good

Facebook Will Expand Its Fundraising Tools to Instagram

Facebook Fundraising Tools has raised more than $1 billion for nonprofits worldwide. In 2019, it's highly likely that Facebook will expand its fundraising tools to nonprofits on Instagram. By simply connecting a verified nonprofit's Facebook page with its verified Instagram accounts, two-tap giving could be instantly made available to Instagram's 1 billion users. As the most engaged social network in the world, having a native Donate button on Instagram will transform the site into a fundraising powerhouse.

Heather Mansfield

Heather Mansfield is the founder of Nonprofit Tech for Good and producer of the Global NGO Technology Report and Global Trends in Giving Report. Through webinars and in-person workshops, to date she's trained more 250,000 nonprofit staff worldwide on how to effectively use social media.

Chantal Forster, Technology Affinity Group

Outsourcing IT Will Continue to Grow

Based on the latest TAG State of Philanthropy Tech Survey, outsourcing IT services will continue to trend higher in philanthropy than in previous years. Email and network administration will be the most likely to be fully outsourced by a significant portion of foundation offices. Since 2016, more organizations report fully outsourcing these services:

  • Email: 48 percent fully outsourcing in 2018, a 10 percent increase since 2016
  • Network administration, WAN: 67 percent fully outsourcing in 2018, a 31 percent increase since 2016

Some of the least likely services to be fully outsourced in 2019 will be mobile device administration and database administration.

IT Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Philanthropy

We can also expect in the coming year that many foundation IT departments will begin to address the reported lack of training and developing programs that encourage and sustain diversity, equity, and inclusion specific to IT departments. According to the latest TAG survey, just under half of foundation IT departments do not have disability employment initiatives.

Cybersecurity in Foundation Offices

For the past several years, the rate of security breaches for foundations responding to our annual survey has averaged around 21 percent, with ransomware attacks being the single largest cause of reported breaches (38 percent). As more foundations experience cybersecurity breaches this coming year, there will be wider adoption of security awareness policies. More foundations will put in place basic firewalls, email filtering, antivirus, and intrusion detection tools.

Chantal Forster

Chantal Forster is the executive director of the Technology Affinity Group. As a veteran IT management consultant, Chantal has led community-driven technology initiatives for public and social sector clients and built collaboration programs for data and platform sharing since 2008. Chantal is a sought-after technology advisor and a frequent speaker on human-centered design, IT management, and customer experience strategy. She serves on the board of the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University.

Lauren Hunter, Church Tech Today

Apps That Replicate Your Church

As far as trends, we're seeing some large churches try to replicate and build apps that are a full church campus — on their phones. Churchome in Bothell, Washington, is breaking all the rules. Very interesting. You can download the app for free and test it out. In addition, more and more we're seeing a blend of digital and physical alongside less actual church attendance.

Lauren Hunter

Lauren Hunter is the editor and founder of ChurchTechToday, where she encourages churches to better use technology to improve every aspect of ministry.