nonprofit worker gazing into the future

TechSoup's Nonprofit Tech Trends for 2020

We predict that it's going to be a big year in nonprofit technology in 2020. In just fundraising alone there are a ton of new innovations that you'll have to know about. GoFundMe Charity will be a game changer, smart speakers will become an important fundraising medium, and the controversial new ImpactMatters rating system will cause some spirited debate on the value of your nonprofit.

We also cover some new proposed federal legislation that would incentivize charitable giving by individuals again, how podcasting will be a thing for nonprofits this year, and what we think might be a new online nonprofit operating system; it's called StratusLIVE. We cover even more than all that! So. Without further ado, here's TechSoup's nonprofit tech trends for the fateful year 2020.

drawing of two nonprofit workers gazing into a starry crystal ball

A New Online Nonprofit Operating System?

My TechSoup colleague Stephen Delaney and I sometimes muse about what an online nonprofit operating system would look like. The people at StratusLIVE and Microsoft Philanthropies have come up with something that looks just like that. Here's what the new online technology platform does:

  • Fundraising
  • Constituent management
  • Marketing and engagement
  • Case management
  • Financial processing
  • Program management
  • Events and volunteers
  • Grants management
  • Corporate social responsibility

The software is built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM platform so that it has the Microsoft user interface, including Office and Outlook. Under the hood, the platform supports mobile devices, omnichannel marketing, and predictive analytics. It of course is in a cloud-based architecture. The software is already in use by United Way of Greenville County in South Carolina, also the United Way of Central Indiana and the Georgia State Charitable Contributions Program.

Microsoft has also recently launched Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator and the Common Data Model for Nonprofits, two critical initiatives aimed at helping nonprofit organizations leverage Microsoft technologies to drive greater impact and to create open data standards for improved data and transparency. All of this creates a suite of technologies that will enable nonprofits to easily navigate between Office products, the StratusLIVE donor management CRM, and other nonprofit tools. For more information, email info@stratuslive.com

GoFundMe Charity as Game Changer

GoFundMe, the crowdfunding platform, in November launched a new free fundraising platform for all U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofits called GoFundMe Charity. They have also launched a donate button that can be integrated into any WordPress website for more direct fundraising. GoFundMe of course is the biggest and most popular personal crowdfunding platform. From 2010 to 2017, it raised over $5 billion for over 2 million individual campaigns from 50 million donors. The new charity giving platform, GoFundMe Charity, requires no upfront costs, contracts, or subscription fees to nonprofits beyond a standard transaction fee of under 3 percent to cover credit card processing and the safe transfer of funds. See our recent blog post about how to get started with the new GoFundMe services.

Smart Speakers as the Future for Nonprofit Fundraising

Edison Research's Smart Audio Report revealed that Americans now own 118.5 million smart speakers. People are talking more and typing less as virtual assistants, like Alexa or Google Assistant, are becoming common household items. By the end of 2020, 50 percent of all online searches will be performed with voice search

Smart speakers can benefit nonprofit organizations because voice command fundraising eliminates barriers and provides ease and convenience to potential donors. It removes the traditional steps of making a donation, such as digitally or by manually writing a check, and enables users to make a donation simply by making a vocal request. There are already hundreds of nonprofits that offer Alexa donations. People just say something like, "Alexa, make a donation to American Childhood Cancer Organization."

To do this, your organization needs to be voice-search ready. Being voice-search ready ultimately means being able to provide searchers with up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible information about your organization. When a user searches for business information in their area verbally, the accuracy of business information, across certain key directories, will determine whether a business is recommended in search results. For more on this trend, check out Everyaction.com's The Nonprofit's Guide to Voice Command Fundraising.

Facebook's Simplified Donation Processing

In mid-November, Facebook unveiled a digital payment system, called Pay, that will let users make payments across its Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms. For instance, nonprofits can now add a donate button directly to the top of their Instagram profiles. Have a look at the Forbes article on this fairly simple but useful new fundraising tool for 2020.

The Controversial New ImpactMatters Rating System

Up to now, it's been pretty hard for donors and grantmakers to get any real information on the impact of a charity's work. The new nonprofit rating service ImpactMatters is aiming to do just that. It rates similar nonprofit groups across an array of areas. It looks at how much good an organization achieves per dollar. As the New York Times explains, "for example, a group that provides a meal for $2 when the cost in the area is $4 will get a higher rating than a similar group that provides a meal in that area for $5."

So far, the goal of ImpactMatters is to help donors at least find the most cost-effective nonprofits in eight areas where impact can be measured: veterans, clean water, homelessness, health, poverty, hunger, education, and climate change. What's our prediction for the coming year? A vigorous debate on the value of charity work based solely on the cost of its services like Candid's Vu Le lays out.

The Universal Charitable Giving Act Legislation

It is clear that U.S. charitable giving by individuals is declining due largely to the 2017 tax overhaul called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. There is congressional policy movement though. This fall, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina introduced a bill in honor of Giving Tuesday that would return the universal charitable deduction to the tax code. It is called The Universal Charitable Giving Act. If enacted, this legislation would incentivize charitable giving by individuals again. Walker's bill would allow deductions for charity up to one-third of the standard deduction amount, which amounts to about $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for married couples per year. In 2020, we predict a growing chorus of nonprofit support for the Universal Charitable Giving Act. May the voice of the people be heard!

Closing Spaces

Closing spaces is the long-term megatrend in the nonprofit, NGO, and civil society world. It is the practice of authoritarian regimes around the world that shutter or jail NGOs and journalists that threaten them, particularly those who document human rights abuses. The nonprofit CIVICUS Monitor tracks the closing spaces trend in the world. Its new report finds that fully 40 percent of the world's population now lives in repressed countries — last year it was 19 percent. Twice as many people are now living in countries where their civic freedoms are being violated than was the case last year. It's getting worse rapidly.

Here's a ray of light for addressing this trend. Chris Delatorre, editor at Digital Impact, hosted a recent podcast that you can listen to. It features Natalie Cadranel of OpenArchive on the organization's new mobile app for good called Save. It safeguards digital evidence of human rights abuses by helping reporters and human rights advocates protect and preserve highly sensitive digital media.

Podcasting for Nonprofits Is Now a Thing

The Journity blog predicts that podcasting will clearly be a growing trend for nonprofits in 2020. They mainly reach an audience of people from 18 to 44. We mainly listen to them on our smartphones and at home. For nonprofits they're useful for educating employees and volunteers with news, CEO reports, and training. For a larger audience outside of your organization, they demonstrate leadership and "name-cause" recognition, explore issues in your mission area, and tell heartfelt stories about the impact of your work.

On average, it costs about $200 to $500 per episode and four hours of time to produce each podcast. You'd also need microphones and recording software. TechSoup recently presented a webinar on how to do a podcast. Find our free recording here.

The Easiest Trend to Predict for 2020

#GivingTuesday was bigger and better than ever this year with a reported $511 million raised online in the United States. That's about $111 million more than last year's $400 million. It's an increase of almost 28 percent. In a somewhat bleak individual donor charitable giving landscape, #GivingTuesday is solid trend year-over-year. Our forecast? It'll be worth participating in next year's Giving Tuesday as well.

That's our trends. Hope you like 'em!

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