Nonprofit organizations affect multiple areas of society. They require the management of massive data and often have limited resources. These groups should leverage technology trends. Organizations can increase efficiency, reduce costs and spend more time on their missions around the world.
The State of Nonprofits in the U.S. in 2018
Current data about nonprofits proves that they affect all kinds of people. This infographic from the National Council of Nonprofits shows their diversity.
Compared to how many of the aligned industries, like healthcare, are on top of technology, nonprofits are lagging. According to a long-term study from NetChange, only 11% of nonprofit employees view their organizations’ use of digital technology as highly effective (Yale University). The current trends nonprofits should prioritize adapting are 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain and the Internet.
3D Printing to Increase Aid and Reduce Costs
With 35.5% of the nonprofit sector focused on human services and the growing number of people on the planet, 2018 will be a pivotal year for 3D printing in nonprofits. Tremendous growth in the demand for printers is lowering the price making them accessible (Salesforce.org). This revolutionizes getting help to people in need.
Increase the efficiency of aid. Rather than finding out what’s needed in the field, requesting it, waiting for it and going back to bring it 3D printing allows relief workers to create what is needed on the spot. When providing infrastructure improvements after a disaster, workers print parts on the spot.
One of the coolest uses of 3D printing by a nonprofit is helping the homeless (CNBC).
Reduce costs. The housing project’s reduced costs are astounding. While not measurable, field-based 3D printing will allow money to be spent directly on those in need of help. 60-80% of nonprofit costs toward humanitarian aid goes toward logistics. 3D printing cuts down on shipping, supplies and so much more. This will ease a significant part of the $15-20 billion annual spending on logistics (Salesforce.org)
AI in the Third Sector
It’s easy to fear AI. Those Facebook bots were creepy, after all. But artificial intelligence is helpful. In fact, a medical robot performed surgery better than surgeons in identical tasks (Salesforce.org). While we’re not advocating for replacing doctors or nonprofit staff with robots, we do believe in nonprofits taking advantage of tech that maximizes efficiency and organization.
AI allows machines to do tasks humans do, often better and faster. From recognizing handwriting to gaining information from images, algorithms constantly improve meaning less time spent on each administrative tasks. Or, in layman’s terms, having more time to do more good.
Increase organization and efficiency. AI tech, like smart pens, means handwritten notes are instantly digitized and available across broad networks. No more dictating, transposing or having to guess at what something says. Field notes are quickly transmitted. These devices are cheaper and have far longer battery lives than tablets.
Raising revenue. Forbes points out the exceptional benefit artificial intelligence brings to the business end of nonprofits. Nonprofits rely on fundraisers to fund their good works. Fundraising often feels impersonal. Other than the email or piece of direct mail with the receiver’s name, everything is the same.
Artificial intelligence uses cognitive insight. That means it can parse huge data sets and formulate specific, actionable recommendations based on donation history, wealth information and event attendance. The donor nonprofit relationship becomes more personalized and could increase revenue.
How Nonprofits Change the World With Blockchain
Blockchain is a distributed ledger initially used for the cryptocurrency exchange. Its technology allows multiple users to work in a document, keeps a secure record, is nearly impossible to hack and is updated in real time.
Blockchain brings efficiency and security to nonprofits. The latter is especially important for nonprofits helping in certain parts of the world.
Increased efficiency. Gone are the days of locked spreadsheets and the hours they added to getting a job done. With blockchain technology, multiple users work in a file and see constant updates. Blockchain eradicates the downtime traditionally associated with file sharing. Nonprofit staff can access, update and move on—increasing time on task.
In addition, many nonprofits are global which means there is currency exchange taking up time and energy. The distributed ledger handles the calculations without the user having to do anything. This increases the speed and accuracy of global transactions.
Anonymity and security. One of the most fascinating advantages of blockchain tech in the third sector is that it offers anonymity. Why would nonprofits want this when transparency is so important? In places where an objective is illegal, like ending the persecution of gay men in Russia or Ukraine, these donations avoid tracking (Forbes).
The Internet and Nonprofits
The tech explored above is newer, but the Internet also offers nonprofits chances to increase global reach. By tracking analytics, nonprofits can assess areas or countries in need of their help. Hence, nonprofits should look at the geographic sources of traffic to determine areas where there is a need for help or interest in giving (American Express).
In conclusion, nonprofits can use this information to develop their online presence. For example, adding translation widgets and doing market research for how to use search engine optimization to increase reach are an important two parts of this. Furthermore, creating new websites specifically aimed at regions of the world where traffic is growing is another option for expanding global reach.
CRA Understands Nonprofit Tech
Computer Resources of America has the expertise and staff nonprofits need when assessing their use of emerging tech and innovatively using existing hardware and software. If your nonprofit wants to decrease costs while increasing its effect on the world, contact us and let’s start a dialogue.