Technology Trends for Nonprofits in 2011

Submitted by Brett on Mon, 11/08/2010 - 4:01pm

By Tonia Zampieri, Sales & Marketing Manager, LoyaltyClicks at Smart Online

How should nonprofits position themselves in this ever changing world of technology? How important is it for them to understand and keep up with the new trends in technology? To answer these questions and more, we at Smart Online™ used this last quarter of 2010 to try and unravel the ‘Technology Trends for Nonprofits’ in 2011. We hope that nonprofits will find this trend(y) report handy in planning their technology strategies for the New Year!

To start with, we conducted a survey (tweet tweet!) asking nonprofit leaders and workers how they are using technology currently, and their plans for using technology in the future. We also collected and analyzed data to try and predict how the technology playing field will likely evolve in the coming years, focusing primarily on nonprofits.

Engagement is the new Investment: How engaged is your nonprofit?

To be able to advocate a cause, nonprofits need to engage with their supporters. There is a constant need to reach out to more supporters who exist on different (evolving) social platforms, and cultivate a personal relationship with them. The best thing supporters can do for you, is to tell their friends to support your cause! Technology offers an assortment of ways to engage with supporters, and nonprofits are becoming aware of this. It’s all about your return on your engagement; Return on Engagement (ROE) is the new Return on Investment (ROI).

Social media is a great tool for increasing supporter engagement; a majority of nonprofits have realized this. Our survey showed that 91% of our respondents use Facebook, 63% use Twitter, 45% use YouTube and 35% use LinkedIn, amongst other media. And 92% of surveyed nonprofits plan on using at least one of these tools in 2011. This is an indication that nonprofits are definitely moving in the right direction, which is also reflected in the Nielsen Study (What Americans Do Online, August 2010). It says that 22.7% of internet user time is spent on social media and social networking. However, what is really interesting is the fact that almost half of this 22.7% is through mobile devices!

Why Go Mobile?

Our survey showed that over 90% of surveyed nonprofits use email marketing and social media in their engagement strategies. On the other hand, only 16% of the surveyed nonprofits plan on having mobile websites in 2011, while 19% plan on having Smartphone Applications. Relative to the email and social media engagement strategies, it appears that nonprofits still have a long way to go in tapping into the quickly and exponentially growing mobile audience.

Did you know that mobile web use increased by 230% between 2008 and 2009? [1] And not just that, according to Gartner Research, by 2013 mobile phones will take over PC’s as the most common web access device. [2] Also, 41% of mobile internet time is spent on email.[3] Did you get an adrenalin rush?! If not, you should!

An overwhelming number of nonprofits use email marketing as part of their engagement strategies. 93% of our respondents plan on using email marketing in 2011. Now, here’s a scenario: a supporter receives one of your email blasts with a call to action that redirects them to your website; they click through to your website on their smartphones, but are unable to take any action because your website appears too small and illegible on their phones. Result: you lose out on them taking any direct action because in all probability, they are not going home to reopen your website on their computers. How many do you think you will lose next year because of this? Now imagine if you had a simple mobile rendering that will allow them to easily view your web pages on their mobile phones. Supporters can easily donate, rsvp to events, and take action, right then and there! Making your existing content accessible to mobile users is the simplest thing you can do. But you can also develop innovative applications that specifically target mobile users.

Smartphone Applications are an innovative tool available to you, with functionality that is limited only by your imagination. With your organization’s own personal Smartphone Application, you can reach high levels of engagement with your supporters. Always be connected to them! Dynamically notify them of your upcoming events; integrate your social media pages with your application, and get live feedback from supporters. You give the 150 million smartphone users (by 2011) in the US, the power to help support, and promote your cause!

We’ve all heard about ‘Text-to-Give’: an example of a mobile offering, run by the American Red Cross during the Haiti crisis, and how they raised a whopping $30 million through this in less than a month. But here are some compelling reasons why a mobile website or a mobile application might work better for your organization:


Get Engaged!

In 2008, Smartphones only had a 10% market share, but in a short span of just two years, their penetration into the mobile phone market has almost tripled. And in the next one year, it is going to become five times this number, which is almost 50% of the market share. Smartphone sales are also expected to beat PC sales by 2011. Mobile solutions for your nonprofit will allow you to engage with this supporter base in a way you never imagined.

Connected devices are becoming increasingly popular and will only continue to evolve. People will interact with these devices, like mobile and smart phones, in new and enriching ways. Nonprofits can only reap benefits from allowing themselves to be accessed through these innovative devices. Do you want to risk being left behind?

Visit for the full report.

Tonia heads up the LoyaltyClicks division at Smart Online, a group of “Smart” folks who create innovative technology tools - empowering nonprofits to do their best fundraising and donor engagement. Tonia conceptualized the novel 2009 ‘Tap-n-Give’ iPhone application to help increase nonprofit awareness and funding in the mobile space. Her expertise in mobile technology combined with her 7+ years experience in the nonprofit sector is invaluable when working with nonprofits to determine their technology needs. Learn more.


[1] Bango Annual Mobile Usage Study, Feb 2010

[2] Gartner Research: ‘Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2010 and Beyond; A New Balance’, Jan 2010

[3] NeilsenWire Study: What Americans do Online, August 2010