Written by Jesse Dean
Digital Marketing Consultant and Social Media Trainer

[Originally posted on LinkedIn]

I always look forward to scouring through the annual Global NGO Technology Report as a way to benchmark my communications and fundraising work for mission-driven organizations. Public Interest Registry published the 2018 report this week in collaboration with its research partner, Nonprofit Tech for Good.

Each year, more and more NGOs/non-profits participate in the research project, and the latest is no exception. With the most significant participation to date, the researchers surveyed 5,352 non-profits from 164 countries.

See below for my key takeaways and recommendations for non-profits this year.

WEB- AND EMAIL-BASED COMMUNICATIONS

An overwhelming number (87%) of non-profits said they had mobile-responsive websites and more than half (54%) utilized an open-source Content Management System (CMS) with most utilizing WordPress (44%). This finding is encouraging since early on, non-profit organizations relied on developers who built websites on their proprietary CMS platforms that are often complicated for staff to use and require ongoing support, for a fee of course.

Non-profits that are not yet utilizing an open-source CMS should consider migrating to one. Open-source CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla offer the best options for customization, ease of use and security. In the least, it is best practice to plan ‚ÄĒ and budget for ‚ÄĒ a website overhaul every three years to stay on top of technology advancements and create a refreshed look and feel for your constituents and donors.

While the majority of non-profits said that their mobile-responsive websites had a blog, only 38% said they published content on a regular basis. Integrating blog publishing into a content marketing strategy is an opportunity for non-profits to engage their audiences beyond just donation solicitations or event invites.

Investing in the creation of robust content, either in-house or with freelance writers, is an excellent way to engage your audiences beyond requests for support.

The majority of non-profits used email regularly as a way to communicate with their constituents and donors. Across all sectors, email continues to be the best way to engage audiences. One facet of email marketing I have found non-profits often overlook however, is email segmentation. Few non-profits provide only one program or service, and their email lists should reflect the diversity of programming. Once you have segmented lists and a content marketing strategy in place, you can begin sending email content that is relevant to each audience. Feel free to contact me if you need ideas on list segmentation.

FUNDRAISING

Not surprisingly, non-profits that were most successful at fundraising had a content marketing strategy in place with clear call-to-actions (CTAs) and seamless donation pathways online.

Two surprise takeaways from the report for me were the rise of non-profits that tried peer-to-peer fundraising (33%) and opportunities to add digital wallet and cryptocurrency options for donation payments. TheBlackbaud CRM, which many non-profits utilize, allows for digital wallet payments and non-profits need to integrate these options now.

Peer-to-Peer fundraising means that your fans raise money on your behalf by tapping into their network of family, friends, and co-workers. Traditionally this has been done through athletic events, but now with tools like Facebook Fundraisers, fans can create their own online fundraising campaign tied to your charity. Peer-to-Peer fundraising is a strategy that non-profits should explore this year especially since if successful, it can create a steady stream of micro-donation revenue.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The report credits the non-profit sector for being early adopters of social media for brand awareness and revenue generation, and I agree. Non-profits had Facebook pages long before large corporations realized the advantage (and challenges) of having a social media presence. Not surprisingly, Facebook was the top platform for non-profits. Ninety-three percent of non-profits had a Facebook page.

Twitter was the second-most used social media platform by 77% of those surveyed, but I was surprised that a whopping 69 percent only tweeted between once daily to once weekly. Engaging followers and gaining new followers has always been a challenge, and worsened as Twitter became the megaphone of choice for politicians, however, participating in program-related chats and regularly engaging with audiences organized by lists are strategies to rise above the noise.

Another surprise in the report was that less than a third (32%) of non-profits had a written social media strategy in place. Taking the time to think through your strategy ahead of time is a must for finding success with social media. A strategic plan is even more critical since Facebook has changed its newsfeed that is negatively impacting visibility for business pages.

I hope my takeaways and recommendations were helpful. I would love to hear about what you found most interesting in the report. Contact me.