The 2019 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report offers insights and best practices from more than 600 nonprofit professionals.
February 20, 2019

Tech trends for nonprofit communicators in 2019

Do you think your nonprofit should try live streaming or different kinds of videos in 2019? Desperate to try new software for your editorial calendar? Tired of producing long, boring printed annual reports and wish you could put it online?

When you want to try something new or make a change at your nonprofit, someone may ask you if other nonprofits are doing it too and if you have any research to support this change.

For nonprofit communications and marketing questions, you don’t have to post plaintive requests for help on social media. Instead, the annual Nonprofit Communications Trends Report produced by my organization Nonprofit Marketing Guide, can be a helpful resource.

The 2019 Trends Report covers all of these questions and more. It was compiled from the answers of approximately 600 nonprofit professionals who took the 2019 Nonprofit Communications Trends Survey in November 2018.

More than half of nonprofits live streamed video in 2018

Several social media platforms are encouraging live streaming video as an especially engaging form of social content.

Nonprofits are giving it a try, with 39% saying they live streamed video to Facebook, 9% saying they live streamed on Instagram, and 4% saying they live streamed on YouTube. Just under half of nonprofits, 46%, said they did not live stream at all in 2018.

Nonprofits use video in numerous ways

We also asked about recorded videos. By far, the most popular type of video among nonprofits is storytelling about participants or supporters, with 60% of nonprofits creating them.

Video appeals for fundraising and “thank you” videos to share with supporters are created by about a third of nonprofits each.

For many nonprofits, video is considered too time-consuming, but it’s one of the first tasks they would ask a new communications team member to take on, if their team were to grow. The same is true of social media in general: it’s viewed as too time-consuming but important enough to assign to a new team member, if the team were to grow.

Shorter annual report formats are most popular

At Nonprofit Marketing Guide, we have long advocated for shorter annual report formats. We contend the traditional 20+ page print reports no longer provide the value they once did, especially given the exorbitant amount of time and money required to produce them.

Nonprofits agree, with only 10% of nonprofits choosing that long, traditional format. That’s not to say print annual reports are disappearing. About a third of nonprofits will produce an 8-20 page print report with another 23% opting for a 2-4 page report. Print is still in – but the page count is definitely coming down.

Only about 10% of nonprofits say they will create a web page, blog post, or microsite as their primary annual report. Another 12% say they will produce an infographic as their primary annual report. If you want to drop print entirely, you won’t be alone, but you won’t be in the majority either.

Editorial calendars most often built in common office productivity software

Using an editorial calendar to manage content creation and publishing is a fundamental best practice that most effective nonprofits use. More than 80% of nonprofits surveyed use an editorial calendar.

There is, however, no one type of software that’s best for an editorial calendar. Much of it is personal preference – at Nonprofit Marketing Guide we often talk about whether staff have “calendar brains” or “spreadsheet brains” when discussing software preferences.

Almost half of nonprofits said they used either Google Suite or Microsoft Office products to manage their editorial calendars. Project management software such as Airtable, Asana, Basecamp, Coschedule, Smartsheet, and Trello, collectively account for another 16%. Another 10% prefer to use a simple wall or paper calendar.

Nonprofits still rely heavily on email and meetings for internal communications

When it comes to internal messaging, nonprofits still rely on traditional tools, especially email and meetings, in spite of how time-consuming and unproductive they may be. We hope in future years to see more adoption of internal communications tools like instant messaging and messaging through project management software, rather than email. But for now, nonprofits adopting those tools are in the minority.

Only 14% of nonprofits reported regularly using instant messaging apps for internal communications and just 7% reported using messaging features within project management software.

Text messaging for internal communications was popular only for smaller organizations (under $1 million) and with CEO-led communications teams (which tend to be within smaller organizations).

Communications strategy, team structure, and salary data

In addition to these tech-related insights, the 2019 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report also includes new and updated data on:

  • The priority level, experience level and effectiveness on nonprofits for 12 marketing strategies
  • Communications teams sizes, structures, and budgets
  • Communications team salaries, including regional differences
  • The link between organizational culture and effective communications work

Interested to learn more? Download a free copy of the 2019 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report here.

Kivi Leroux Miller
Kivi Leroux Miller is the founder and CEO of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, where she helps nonprofit communications professionals learn their jobs *and* love their jobs through a variety of training and coaching programs. She has personally mentored more than 150 nonprofit communications directors and communications teams as a certified executive coach. Kivi is a popular keynote, workshop, and webinar presenter, speaking dozens of times each year. She is also the co-founder of Bold & Bright Media, which published her newest book, 'CALM not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit's Communications for Great Results' in February 2018. She's also the author of 'The Nonprofit Marketing Guide' (2010) and the award-winning 'Content Marketing for Nonprofits' (2013). Because she can't get enough of nonprofits and entrepreneurship for good, Kivi also co-leads a Girl Scout troop and is vice president of the Lexington Farmers Market Association (Lexington, NC). She also co-founded Grow and Go Girls, a small baking and gardening business where all net profits go into a travel fund for a group of small-town girls to travel the big world, including one of her daughters.