Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. For over a decade nonprofits, charities, and NGOs worldwide have been embracing social media with the hope of raising funds and creating social change. The rapid rise of social media and its proliferation to every corner of the globe will be one of the most defining characteristics of the 21st Century. Today, however, social media is in transition as its newness wanes and innovative technologies are on the horizon that will have just as a profound effect on the nonprofit sector. Now is a good time for nonprofits to pause and reflect upon the success of their social media and nonprofit technology campaigns thus far, to determine how they can be improved, and most importantly, to invest in their future.
1) Declining Engagement and Reach on Social Media
Throughout 2016 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have seen declining engagement and reach. Algorithms, the high volume of brands, businesses, and nonprofits using social media for marketing, and slowing “Like” and “Follow” rates have lessened the power of the Big Three – unless your nonprofit has an advertising budget. The truth is that the era of free is over on social media and throughout 2017 engagement and reach will continue to decline – especially for small and medium-sized nonprofits. To continue to have positive results on the Big Three, your nonprofit will need to make financial investments in staff, advertising, and premium tools.
2) A Revival in Email Fundraising
In response to declining engagement and reach on social media, in 2017 nonprofits will begin to refocus their efforts on email communications and email fundraising. Social media has been such a phenomenon that it has distracted many nonprofits away from using email to engage their donors and supporters and recent data has revealed that was a mistake. 56% of emails are now opened on a mobile device (Litmus) and the number one activity on smartphones is reading email, not gaming or social networking. Furthermore, email revenue grew by 25% in 2015, faster than the 19% overall rate of online revenue growth (2016 M+R Benchmarks Study). In truth, email is resulting in more online donations than ever – definitely more than social media – and by 2019 the total number of email accounts worldwide will grow from 4.35 billion to 5.59 billion (Radicati Group). Email hasn’t even hit its peak yet.
3) The Rise of Digital Payments on Social Media
In the United States nonprofits can now directly accept digital payments inside of Facebook. Donors enter and save their credit card once and then every donation made on Facebook thereafter can be completed with two taps on a smartphone or two clicks of a mouse. Facebook has released their new donation capability in the United States first because Facebook can use the GuideStar database to easily verify a nonprofit’s legal status, but in time Facebook donations will spread throughout the globe. Facebook owns Instagram, so the company will likely also add digital payments to Instagram. Twitter is working on $Cashtags. YouTube has donation cards. Snapchat has Snapcash. Money and online giving as we’ve known it is on the precipice of radical change. Giving will be easier and faster and match perfectly the impulsive nature of social media users.
4) Increased Adoption of New and Improved Mobile Fundraising Apps
Similar to digital payments on social media, Apple has launched Apple Pay, Android has Android Pay, and Samsung has Samsung Pay. Known primary as mobile wallets that allow brick-and-mortar payments through near-field communication, all three payment systems also have online and in-app payment capability. Once a consumer enters their credit card information into their Apple, Android, or Samsung Mobile Wallet, they can then purchase products online or in apps with two taps or a tap and a finger scan. Currently, the technology is not being used for nonprofit fundraising – only for consumer purchases – but it’s just a matter of time until nonprofit technologists and social entrepreneurs come together to create mobile fundraising apps empowered by mobile wallets.
5) The Nonprofit Sector Embraces the Internet of Things
By 2020, over 26 billion things – cars, appliances, roads – will be connected to the Internet (Gartner), yet the vast majority of staff working at nonprofits have never heard the term “Internet of Things.” That will change in 2017 as the Internet of Things and its implications begin to seep into the nonprofit sector’s consciousness. Nonprofits will begin seeking the opportunity to help governments and business design the smart, sustainable cities of the future. They will work with the tech giants to discover ways to donate and engage with nonprofits through Internet-connected appliances, cars, and billboards. Over the next half decade, nonprofits will begin to take an active role in shaping the Internet of Things and ensuring that philanthropy and a commitment to social good is programmed into its foundation.
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