3 Tech Disruptions Your Nonprofit Can’t Ignore

tech disruptors

The technology that once was just a dream of the future is now the tech of today. We may not be flying cars (yet!), but augmented and virtual reality are becoming a part of your donors’ and volunteers’ everyday lives.

These media are considered disruptors from a marketing perspective because they change the status quo. And that’s a good thing! In fact, the three tech disruptions highlighted here are welcome additions to breathe new life into the nonprofit sector:

1. Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR)

The lines between the digital world and the real world are blurring more each day.

Virtual reality has been around for a long time actually. Most consumers know what it is and how it works. With this tech, people are truly immersed in an entirely digital world, controlling it and viewing it as if it were real. Virtual reality is fascinating, and can be incredibly helpful in providing immersive experiences to donors—especially if they don’t get a chance to see and feel the work you do as an organization.

Augmented reality is more of a blend between digital and reality. Digital data and information is overlaid on actual, real-life scenery. Think about location-based apps: if you point your smart phone or tablet at something, and the screen displays additional information, that’s augmented reality. It’s real life, but with an added layer.

Your nonprofit can take advantage of VR and AR at fundraising events, and annual appeals can be so much more than long-form letters from the Executive Director. Imagine the difference to donors who are considering a contribution: seeing a static photo on a direct mail piece, or interacting with the people whose very lives are being touched by their contribution. There’s nothing more powerful than the latter.

Nonprofits and fundraising are based in and on relationships, and therein lies the place and case for augmented and virtual reality.

Whatever your cause, AR and VR work best when that blending of real life and virtual worlds is seamless. You’ll need a team or agency with top-notch creativity and design skills, to create virtual scenarios and items that feel and look real. That personal touch is what will make the most of this technology.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is commonplace at this point, far removed from the days of somewhat trustworthy, somewhat terrifying robot helpers in sci-fi films. AI may not quite be at human levels of intelligence yet (which some may find reassuring) but this tech is helpful, useful, and something users have come to expect.

Set up a chatbot for your website to handle basic donor or volunteer questions. Personalize campaigns and outreach with artificial intelligence, boosting productivity on your end and donor satisfaction, too. Remember that you can always build onto a simple start with AI.

3. Blockchain

Blockchain takes typical transactional trust and turns it on its head. With this tech, transactions are verified based on a distributed ledger rather than a centralized authority. Anyone involved with the ledger can check in on it to see files, actions, and transactions, instead of relying on one main leader.

How does this help your nonprofit? More control means a more finely tuned experience and more transparency for your donor base. With blockchain, your donors not only have a new way to give to your organization, but they can also see exactly how things are working, and pass that increased trust onto their own networks for an exponential increase in individual and corporate giving.

Some of this tech is at the forefront of our human desires right now, and some of it’s on the fringe of everyday expectations. Ask what your donors expect and need from you. But don’t sit on the sidelines watching these changes for too long before getting involved; that’s a surefire way to get left behind and lose funding. Adjust your donor outreach campaigns and web technology accordingly to ensure that your existing and prospective donors and volunteers are engaging in the deepest possible ways with your organization.

Embrace new technology. If it seems overwhelming, or you simply don’t know where to start or who to ask, I can help with nonprofit consulting.

Author: Kelly Campbell
Kelly Campbell is an Agency Leader Transformation Coach based in New York. The former owner of a cause marketing agency for 14 years, she helps creative leaders transform their businesses and their lives—focusing on the 5 P's: purpose, people, positioning, pipeline and profitability. She speaks at agency growth conferences across the country, has been featured in The New York Times, Woman Entrepreneur and Forbes, gets vulnerable on Medium, and is currently authoring her first book on reframing leadership. She is the host of THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, a bi-weekly video podcast sponsored by Workamajig that helps agency owners navigate personal and professional growth.

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