How Your Non-Profit Can Use Technology to Grow

Non-profits play a huge role in societal well-being, and the general public recognizes this. In 2018, charitable organizations received about $428 billion in donations, with foundations contributing $76 billion and corporations giving $20 billion. To make their operations more efficient, non-profits are increasingly using technology tools. In this article, we discuss the benefits that non-profits can obtain by adopting technology and the challenges that stand in the way.

Historical barriers to tech adoption in the non-profit sector

Let’s start by analyzing long-standing reasons why non-profits have been slow to adopt modern technological solutions:

Thin margins

A lot of non-profits think that all grants and funding should be directed to the cause, which leaves very little money for operating costs, including spending on technology. The solution is for non-profits to not consider technology as overhead, but to use it to increase efficiency and build capacity. The right solutions can help charitable organizations receive more grants and grow their projects to serve larger communities.

Low revenues

Many non-profits struggle to get adequate funding for their causes. This lack of finances has been a historical barrier that impacts technology adoption. The solution is to use free or low-cost donor management tools to increase the number of donations received and plow the extra money into operational expenses to expand technology utilization.

Restrictive bureaucracy

In old-fashioned non-profits, bureaucracy can be a hurdle to tech adoption. Leaders may lack the vision or expertise to understand the benefits of technology. They may be satisfied with paper-based processes or spreadsheets. Such organizations need to comprehend the advantages of tech utilization to enhance their functioning.

Understaffed teams

Some non-profits are understaffed and lack the manpower for technology use. Their professionals may be saddled with many tasks and might not have the time to get trained in effectively using technology tools. One solution is to recruit volunteers who can be trusted to utilize software solutions in the day-to-day functioning of the non-profit.

Expense of hiring tech experts

Advanced software solutions need to be managed and maintained by tech experts, and non-profits may not have the funds to hire them. The answer here is to subscribe to cloud platforms that can be learned easily, even by lay users in the organization. Anyone in the non-profit with rudimentary tech knowledge can leverage these tools, eliminating the need to recruit expensive IT professionals.

Non-profit pain points that can be addressed with tech

Now, let’s analyze how technology can solve common challenges faced by non-profits:

Donor management

A quality donor management product can help you prepare detailed donor profiles. You can also include custom fields to develop a unique relationship with each giver and understand them better. This will enable you to send personalized communications to each contributor to pique their interest in your cause.

Donation processing

Cloud CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems come with a built-in payment processor that your team can utilize to collect donations and raise funds. This tool can help donors to contribute in multiple ways, including donation forms on your organization’s website, virtual events and auctions, and peer-to-peer fundraising pages. Advanced products offer a mobile app that facilitate mobile payments for donations.

Event planning and management

Non-profits need to organize events to get closer to their donors and attract more givers to support their mission. However, it is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to plan and organize events. You need to manage advertising, signup and check-in, parking, catering, venue rentals, and other details.

The solution is to invest in a donor management system that has built-in event planning and management features. Such a platform can offer a number of helpful functions:

  • Tracking and budgeting
  • Volunteer registration and assignment handling
  • Signup pages and payment processor for web registrations
  • Tracking of guest preferences like accessibility needs and food restrictions
  • Automatic email confirmation messages and reminders for registered participants

Donor outreach

A good non-profit CRM solution can help you improve your donor outreach strategies by enabling you to learn more about the interests and motivations of your contributors. Each giver has their personal objectives and different capacities to offer donations. The software can provide personal donor data to help tailor your outreach strategies based on the interests of each individual giver. It can also offer data analytics features that deliver insights on which tactics are proving effective for different donor segments.

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Modern platforms and technologies for non-profits

Below are some app types that have emerged within the past five years to enable faster growth among NPOs.

Fundraising platforms

A range of fundraising platforms are available for non-profits to attract more funds for their mission. These include online giving software, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, matching gift solutions, auction software, and mobile suites.

SaaS donor management tools

Non-profits can also consider using SaaS donor management systems that help them understand and improve their relationship with contributors. These solutions can organize donor data, identify donor trends, and present recommendations to boost the chances of receiving donations. All information about each donor is stored securely in a single location, which makes it easier to plan and deploy outreach strategies.

This software also offers wealth screening features that predict which contributors are capable of giving higher sums of money. You can organize and manage all donations in a single place, regardless of whether they have been obtained from events, email campaigns, or social networking sites.

Custom apps that solve specific problems with modern code

You can invest money in developing a custom app for your non-profit that provides benefits such as promoting user acquisition, providing a better experience to existing donors, generating more funds, collecting donor information more easily, promoting fundraising campaigns, increasing your legitimacy and security, creating a like-minded community, and more.

High-impact custom apps that non-profits can build today

If you're looking to use a custom-built app to drive your non-profit's growth, here are a few ideas that you can start with.

Mobile app to engage donors

A mobile app can make giving easy for your donors. They’ll simply need to use their phone to get information on your charity and mission and donate to the cause. Contributors can create an account on the app which will give you the needed information to present them with an individualized experience. 63% of users state they prefer a mobile app over a mobile website.

You can provide different experience for donors and volunteers in the mobile app. Plus, you can utilize your mobile application to collaborate with sponsors and affiliated partners.

Internal app to automate grant proposals

You can develop an internal app that enables your to effectively produce customized grant proposals, pull data from your CRM platform, and deliver details about your non-profit to donors. Custom notifications can alert you when a user opens the file, tell you how much time they spend reading it, and when they register. Plus, the app will allow you to customize your proposals by adding text, videos, and images. It can also track your proposals’ performance over time so that you can comprehend close rates by year, quarter, and month.

Most cost-effective ways for non-profits to adopt new tech

In this section, we discuss how your non-profit can adopt new tech in a cost-efficient manner.

Managed app development

You can hire a professional app development firm to build a custom app for your organization’s needs. The company may charge a one-time fixed fee or an hourly rate for the work. This method can externalize your tech expenses and make it affordable for you to operate and manage your mobile app. Crowdbotics offers managed app development that can get your app up and running on time and within your budget.

In-house or low-code development

Low-code apps are built for internal users in a company. These solutions are easy to utilize, and even lay users in your organization can learn to use them to build apps. By choosing this option, you can save the expense of hiring an outside app development firm for a full app build. Your internal team can develop and manage the mobile app and perform updates as needed. Low-code and no-code tools like the Crowdbotics App Builder are typically easy to learn and use, and your employees don’t need to spend much money and time on added training.

Hiring temporary freelancers

Hiring a full-time tech professional can be another option. If you hire a full-service app development company, it will charge you for the creation, maintenance, and post-deployment support of the app. If you hire a freelancer, however, you should only pay for the specific development work that the freelancer performs. Thus, a freelancer could be a cost-effective and practical option for whom you don’t have to pay a full-time salary, benefits, and perks, and can get started with development at a relatively low cost. Simply pay the freelancers for the work they do and save a good sum of money.


501(c)(3) organizations have historically been slow to adopt cutting-edge technology for various reasons. That may be changing, however, as high-impact applications become more affordable and simpler to build.

Crowdbotics has experience building for non-profits like Solace and offers managed app development, professional consultation, and monthly hosting and maintenance at a competitive price. Get in touch today for a detailed quote from one of our expert PMs.

Originally published:

December 29, 2020

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