2014 will be an exciting year for nonprofit technology. Numerous communications and fundraising trends are on the verge of going mainstream and nonprofits committed to early adoption have a number of new tools and strategies to pioneer this year. Social media will remain a top priority for nonprofits in 2014, but 2013 helped solidify social media as a mandatory set of communication tools. It’s no longer cutting edge, but rather an integral component of a successful online communications and fundraising strategy similar to website and email communications.
1) Mass Adoption of Responsive and Flat Design
Nonprofits that have not yet mobilized their online communications and fundraising campaigns will start to pay the price literally in lost donations in 2014. Going mobile will not be free and for many small nonprofits a costly upgrade, but to successfully communicate your mission and programs and fundraise online in coming years, it is a necessary investment. Websites, blogs, and e-newsletters that are responsively designed will become more common place in 2014 and will incorporate elements of flat design for optimal mobile browsing.
2) Integration of Digital Wallets Into Social Networks
Facebook recently selected 18 of their favorite nonprofits and embedded a “Donate Now” on their Facebook Pages and while that was nice of them to do, it’s not useful to the other million+ nonprofits (in the United States alone) that would like access to the service. Unless Facebook partners with an online donation service that can efficiently distribute donations for a million+ nonprofits, such as JustGive.org or Network for Good, Facebook’s new donation service will be limited to the selected few nonprofits that Facebook is willing to process and distribute funds for. The application process is exceptionally vague and noncommittal which is telling on how limited Facebook’s short-term plans are for the service.
That said, both Facebook and Twitter are working on launching their own digital wallet systems which could radically transform online fundraising via social networks. The credit card data of donors would be stored within their Facebook or Twitter accounts (or LinkedIn or Instagram accounts) to allow for one-tap donations and funds would be distributed by a third-party, such as PayPal or a mobile wallet app service (or a donation service similar to Network for Good). It’s a guessing game at this point who the social network giants will partner with. Of all the digital payment services, Google Wallet is the digital payment system to watch in 2014. Google will likely integrate their Google Wallet “Donate” button into Google+ Pages as it is already into YouTube Channels that participate in YouTube’s nonprofit program.
3) Live Reporting During TV Events
As social media becomes more integrated into TV, nonprofits would be wise to master the art of live reporting this year. It will require new media managers to be available beyond the traditional Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 work week, but with the possibility of increasing your nonprofit’s exposure to millions of TV viewers, early adopter nonprofits should prioritize being active on social media during news conferences and special events, such as the #SOTU, and experiment with Internet TV and its related apps as soon as possible.
4) Maturation of Mobile Fundraising Apps
Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, many mobile fundraising apps have come and gone. Some were ahead of their time and others lacked the design and functionality necessary to hook smartphone users. However, in 2013 a new suite of mobile fundraising apps launched that have staying power – and more will likely follow in 2014 – and early adopter nonprofits should watch and pioneer the trend.
5) Increased Employment Opportunities in New Media
In 2013 the number of nonprofits that increased their social media budgets quadruppled and this is a trend that will continue throughout 2014. The reality is that mobile and social media require time to use effectively. The number of social networks as well as the quality of content that your nonprofit creates for your social media campaigns is directly correlated to the amount of staff time your nonprofit invests in new media. The good news is that most nonprofits are starting to realize this and are adjusting their budgets accordingly as proven by the number of new media jobs in the nonprofit sector available online.