By Kate Zilke and Brett Mayfield
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on organizations, with the nonprofit sector scrambling for funding as major donors and foundations take more economically conservative measures for their survival. Without their usually reliable funding, nonprofits have had to get creative to maintain the necessary financial capacity for their campaigns and programs. By adopting and adapting new technologies to their fundraising strategies, nonprofits build their technological capacity to continue making valuable social impact virtually. So what are organizations using, how well are they working for the organizations, and are they worth using after the pandemic has passed? We will look at three technologies that have assisted in virtual fundraising and explore their impacts and potentials during the pandemic and beyond.
One of the most impactful funding technologies that emerged during the pandemic in the nonprofit community is resource sharing platforms. These platforms are online landing pages where nonprofits can find financial support, from grants to local resources and partnerships. Generally, these sharing platforms exist in four forms: governmental, national, community-based, and organizational. Governmental resource platforms include federal websites such as the FEMA Public Assistance Program, which emerged during the first months of the pandemic. These are especially helpful for urgent emergency funding. National platforms are similar in that they provide directories for funding opportunities, but instead of focusing on federal resources, they focus on resources from across the country. An example includes The Bridgespan Group’s resources page. Community-based platforms provide directories that focus on specific areas, such as resources in Chicago. Lastly, organizational resource platforms are slightly different and usually entail network resources and aid directly tied to an organization. These resource-sharing platforms are a technological tool that has helped financially struggling nonprofits keep one another alive during this challenging economic time. Looking forward, these platforms may be helpful as models for future crisis management in the nonprofit sector.
A second fundraising technology that nonprofits have adopted this past year is online conferencing platforms. Zoom is currently the most popular example of these platforms, alongside other prominent competitors such as Skype. Online conferencing has provided nonprofits the ability to meet and cater to potential donors while maintaining social distancing protocols. Through webinars or online galas, nonprofits can share resources, research, and even organizational goals with a wide array of attendees from across the globe––which is a particular advantage of this online fundraising method. This technology is a worthwhile exploration for nonprofits to consider post-pandemic since it simultaneously maximizes funding opportunities while reducing logistical complications.
A third technology nonprofits have adapted is mobile donation options. This includes nonprofit auction software, which allows nonprofits to receive gifts through an automated system while providing incentives for donors to participate. Many nonprofits have adapted this model because of the number of free options available coupled with the ease of ability to execute an event. Nonprofit auction software is an excellent addition to the preexisting donor landing pages on nonprofit websites. This technology is likely here to stay, as much as the potential for online conferencing platforms. It can attract and maintain donors globally as long as cybersecurity is maintained.
Ultimately, these technologies have allowed nonprofits to gain funding during economically unstable times through remote relationship building and brand deliverance. This move has allowed organizations to pull together funding from various sources and pursue their social impact goals amidst this challenging time.
Want to learn more? Check out these information sessions regarding COVID-19 technologies.