6 technology concepts nonprofits need to understand in 2018

A version of this article was originally published on nptechforgood.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Over the last decade the discussion around nonprofit technology (#nptech) has primarily been focused on social media, mobile technology, and online fundraising. However, as the internet enters its next phase, nonprofits need to better understand some of the more complicated concepts that will shape the internet and its use in the decades to come.

Advancements in internet technology will change how we live, how we serve, how we fundraise, and how we interact with humans, the natural world, and machines.

1. Blockchain – #blockchainforgood

A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. – Wikipedia

NTEN: Restoring Trust in the Nonprofit Sector with Blockchain
Social Media Week: The Essential Guide to Blockchain for Brands
Bond: Top 11 Resources on Blockchain for Global Development

2. Cryptocurrency – #cryptoforgood

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its most endearing allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation. – Investopedia

As of 2/26/18: Number of Cryptocurrencies: 1,577 Total Market Cap: $450,941,873,379

Tech Impact: Bitcoin and Blockchain Provides Transparency for Donations
Beaconfire RED: Should Nonprofits Accept Bitcoin and Other Cyrptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrencies to Watch: Gift Coin, Mission Coin, NGO Coin, Wishcoin

3. Artificial Intelligence – #aiforgood

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. – Techopedia

SAS: Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and Why It Matters
Charity Digital News: Artificial Intelligence: The Future of the Charity Sector
Nonprofit Quarterly: Tech Giants Join with Nonprofits to Consider AI Practice
Bonus: 17NTC Keynote Camille Eddy on cultural bias in AI

4. Encryption – #encryptionforgood

Data encryption translates data into another form, or code, so that only people with access to a secret key (decryption key) or password can read it. – Digital Guardian

Upwork: Encryption Basics: How It Works & Why You Need It
Nonprofit Risk Management Center: Data Privacy and Cyber Liability
Public Interest Registry: What to Do in the Aftermath of a Data Breach

5. Internet of Things – #iotforgood

The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. – Wikipedia

LinkedIn Group: The Internet of Things for Nonprofit Organizations
Internet Society: The Internet of Things: An Overview
Nonprofit Tech for Good: 5 Ways the Internet of Things Could Transform Fundraising

6. Cloud Computing – #cloudforgood

Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of software and hardware installed at your organization’s physical location. – PC Magazine

TechSoup Global: Global Survey Reveals Why NGOs Are Moving IT to the Cloud
Charity Digital News: [INFOGRAPHIC] Staying Safe in the Cloud
npEngage: Why is the Cloud Right for Your Nonprofit

Heather Mansfield
Editor-in-chief
Nonprofit Tech for Good
Heather Mansfield is the editor-in-chief and founder of Nonprofit Tech for Good and author of the best-selling books Social Media for Social Good and Mobile for Good. Over the last 10 years, she’s presented over 500 webinars thus training more than 250,000 nonprofit, NGO, and charity staff worldwide. Heather also writes and produces the Global NGO Technology Report and the Global Trends in Giving Report.