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How Technology is Impacting Nonprofits

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2017-02-14 7:00 am --

Technology has been a game changer for the nonprofit sector. It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the main way nonprofits spread the word about their work was by word-of-mouth, purchased mailing lists and, if they had enough money, paid advertising like commercials or billboards.

While these things still have their place, they are also out of reach for most nonprofits due to budgetary limitations.

Word-of-mouth is wonderful as a personal endorsement, but it’s slow and unreliable. Purchased mailing lists are expensive and have a low ROI. Billboards and air time are incredibly expensive and often not repeatable due to cost.

Now, with all the new technologies out there, small nonprofits have the ability to reach a much broader audience and better target their ideal donor.

Pay Per Click (PPC ) advertising

As search engines and social media outlets have gotten more sophisticated in their data collection on users, so has the ability of nonprofits to target potential supporters. For example, Google offers up to $10k a month in free advertising to registered 501(c)3 nonprofits, giving organizations the ability to attract potential website visitors (and hopefully donors) to their websites.

In addition social media outlets, such as Facebook, offer paid advertising as an option and give users the ability to get laser specific about who should see their advertisement. The result is a much higher ROI and increased engagement.

Email marketing

Email marketing can be a game changer for small nonprofits. Traditional paper mailings certainly have their place, but having a solid email program can literally make or break a small nonprofit.

The average response rate for a paper mailing is 1%, and 2% would have you jumping for joy! Compare that to the 25% average open rate for nonprofit marketing emails and 3% click-through rate. While this is a huge improvement over paper mailings on its own, email marketing is also exponentially cheaper than paper mailings.

eCommerce

A potential source of income that wasn’t previously possible for nonprofits is having an eCommerce component to their websites and the ability to purchase in bulk.

With so many options out there now, such as website providers like Shopify who provide drop shipping service and companies like Dollar Days that sell items in bulk, nonprofits have unlimited opportunity to sell branded items to help support their organization with an additional source of income.

When starting an eCommerce/retail component to your organization, take into consideration what appeals to your supporters and what items you can sell that are “on mission”. For example, if your mission is providing school supplies to underprivileged children, selling branded office supplies may appeal to your supporters.

Branded items can also have a place in your volunteer and fundraising programs. Offering your volunteers a branded item as a thank you can go a long way in building a lasting relationship. Buying in bulk can make it possible for a small organization to provide this perk to their volunteers.