Are nonprofits getting the most out of digital currency?

Nonprofits need to go digital

One of the biggest pain points that nonprofits have to deal with is fundraising. Maintaining a consistent flow of donations and financial contributions can be extremely difficult without an effective strategy and high-quality software tools in place. If nonprofit organizations fail to give these matters their proper due, they may see their stream of donations dry up, making day-to-day operations far more difficult.

Fundraising issues affect both organizations that rely on private contributions and those that receive government support. Many government bodies struggle to pay nonprofits on time and in full. According to a National Council of Nonprofits study, 45 percent of responding nonprofits reported that government agencies are frequently late with their payments. Furthermore, the average state government owed more than $200,000 to each nonprofit it worked with.

“Digital currency offers a quick and easy way to donate.”

Financial issues continue to be a significant cause for concern among nonprofits. A 2014 survey from the Nonprofit Finance Fund found that 28 percent of participants had a deficit at the end of their 2013 fiscal calendar. In response to these issues, many nonprofits are looking for opportunities to diversify their funding sources and bring in new contributions. Thirty-one percent of nonprofits said that they would change their primary avenue for raising money within 12 months of the survey.

Clear roadblocks for donors
In this climate, it’s critical that nonprofits take advantage of every opportunity to increase their funds and contributions. One way that organizations can improve their funding efforts is by removing any barriers or bottlenecks for potential donors. Digital currency offers a quick and easy way for interested parties to donate to their charity or nonprofit of choice. Although many nonprofits have traditionally received cash or check payments as contributions, neither is ideal. It takes time for checks to be deposited, and there may be issues with them clearing. Furthermore, payments sent through the mail could be easily lost, representing missed opportunities for additional funding.

Digital currency, on the other hand, can be transferred almost immediately, eliminating these types of issues and putting critical funds in the hands of nonprofits. Organizations in this sector are starting to take notice of digital payment services and their benefits, using such platforms with greater frequency. According to the Nonprofit Technology Network’s 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study, online donations are on the rise, increasing 14 percent in 2013 alone.

Mobile payment apps enable donors to send contributions with the click of a button.Mobile payment apps enable donors to send contributions with the click of a button.

Tap into new funding sources
Finance consultant and TechSoup contributor Dave Landry, Jr. noted that by embracing digital currency platforms, nonprofits could appeal to an entirely new donor base, further increasing contributions. For instance, younger demographics may be more likely to prefer online payment systems over traditional avenues.

“For people who might not have donated to a nonprofit or charity before, the post-wallet economy offers all sorts of new opportunities,” Landry wrote. “For nonprofits, this whole new world can make doing good easy and even fun for people.”

Another benefit to digital currency is that it helps cut down on waffling from potential donors. When weighing the prospect of making a contribution to a nonprofit, an individual may be discouraged by the amount of effort needed to complete the transaction. Filling out a check, addressing an envelope and heading down to the nearest post office to mail a donation can be a time-consuming process. Ultimately, an interested donor may decide it is not worth the effort. Because digital payments can be made almost instantaneously, there is less risk of a potential contributor walking away.

When considering payment platforms, nonprofit organizations may want to deploy custom software solutions. Many e-wallet services are designed with private businesses in mind and may not properly consider the needs of nonprofits. By working with a specialized software consulting group, organizations can obtain software that has been created specifically around their needs and demands. This way, they can address any number of unique concerns like transparency, compliance and reporting. Furthermore, payment apps can be custom built with a donor audience in mind to help encourage conversions, resulting in more funding overall.

Even in circumstances where IT budgets are tight, nonprofits can benefit tremendously by deploying a digital currency platform geared toward their specific needs.

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Technology and nonprofits go hand in hand

Nonprofits embrace technology

Technology is an extremely important part of everyday life for all of us – from personal experiences to enterprise-related goals. This is something that more nonprofit organizations are realizing, and as such they are looking for new ways to implement it within their offices.

“It should come as no surprise that every company is different – even if they do the same thing. This is especially true for nonprofits.”

But what is technology in relation to nonprofits? According to NTEN contributor Peter Campbell, it should be a philosophy. Like businesses that are for-profit, there is no one-size-fits-all kind of solution here. Instead, tech should be turned to as a way of improving existing practices on a case-by-case basis that considers the actual organization in question.

With this in mind, those nonprofit organizations that are hoping to invest in mobile applications should look into custom software development. Programs are generally created to meet a specific need, but they also have to be built to serve individual companies.

Keeping people connected
Mobile technology has increased the number of ways that people can connect with one another – not to mention the frequency at which they communicate. The world is getting smaller, and nonprofits stand to gain a significant amount of traction through the use of smartphones, tablets and apps. Making it easy and convenient for people to participate in a cause ultimately improves the strength of the nonprofit in question.

“To succeed, a movement needs much more than ad campaigns or ‘astroturfing,” wrote Harvard Business Review contributors Jeremy Heinmans and Henry Timms. “Leaders must be able to actually mobilize true believers, not just talk at them. A key new power question for all organizations is ‘Who will really show up for you?'”

Smartphones help to connect more people with nonprofits.Smartphones help to connect more people with nonprofits.

Meeting specific organizational needs
It should come as no surprise that every company is different – even if they do the same thing. This is especially true for nonprofits. According to Campbell, every nonprofit is unique, and as such their solutions have to be tailored to the specific needs of both their internal and external stakeholder. This is particularly important to remember when it comes to applications and what is best to leverage. This is why custom software development is so critical to pursue. The apps that are leveraged have to work for the company that needs them, and the same principle absolutely applies to not-for-profit agencies and organizations.

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Enterprise mobility concepts have place in nonprofits too

Enterprise Mobility for Nonprofits

There have been countless new ideas that have stemmed from widespread smartphone adoption. In fact, many businesses have been founded on a concept that would not have been possible without the popularity of consumer devices like the iPhone. Services like Uber and Lyft, for example, have changed how people catch a ride. This has caused some serious disruption in the taxi and livery industries.

“Engaging an audience is easy in a software-defined setting.”

But one other place that this idea could take hold is in the nonprofit sector. According to Nonprofit Quarterly contributor Jeanne Allen, ridesharing capabilities have been used by nonprofit organizations to help provide relief in areas that have been struck by a natural disaster. This helps people to stay mobile even if their own cars or normal means of transportation have been disabled.

Nonprofits have a lot to learn from enterprise mobility. There are a number of different ways in which solid business strategies can be appropriated for the nonprofit industry in order to better serve people in need. While individual use cases will vary, there is one thing that’s certain: Custom software solutions are the only way to go. While there may be other apps out there that do the same thing that a nonprofit is trying to accomplish, programs have to be designed for the specific entities that are using them in order to experience the best possible results.

Apps help build community
Nonprofits don’t necessarily have a consumer base as much as they do a community to engage. According to Business 2 Community contributor Wendy Burt-Thomas, this is why former Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman believes that social media is so valuable to nonprofit companies.

“There is a difference between a community and a crowd,” Ulman said, according to Burt-Thomas. “In a crowd, people push and shove and try to get a step ahead. In a community, people look around, they smile and share a story, because they know that a community doesn’t move forward unless they all move forward together.”

It’s undeniable that social media got a huge leg-up from the constant accessibility enabled by smartphone and tablet applications. This is something that nonprofits have to keep in mind – the sense of community that they’re looking for can be found in apps that encourage social interactions and involvement. Engaging an audience is easy in a software-defined setting, and doing so can help nonprofits to increase awareness, donations and support by making these things fun, simple and social.

Social media apps have helped to prove the importance of community in mobile connectivity. Enterprise mobilitySocial media apps have helped to prove the importance of community in mobile connectivity.

The importance of custom software
For any given task, there are countless apps out there that claim to be capable of handling it. But many of these programs are not designed with specific organizations in mind, meaning they only have a general understanding of what a company actually does. In order to make sure that a nonprofit gets the most out of an application, it’s important to invest in custom software development. This will ensure that target audiences are engaged and the overall goal is reached.

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For nonprofits, the time is now for mobile investment

The idea behind the success of the smartphone is that it can be used to do almost anything. Modern mobile devices have a seemingly limitless potential when it comes to improving a user’s everyday experience, and this is something that nonprofit organizations are starting to realize.

“Whether [custom software] is directed at supporters or employees, an app has to fill a need in order to be successful.”

According to First Nonprofit Group, this goes against the common notion that nonprofits are “behind the times when it comes to embracing technology.”

“[T]he truth of the matter is that nonprofit groups are diving headfirst into technology through social media, search engine optimization and a number of digital strategies that help charities and foundations thrive in a world where there is increasing competition for donors’ attention and contributions,” FNG stated on its website.

Mobile investments are becoming essential for nonprofit entities. While there may have once been a question as to whether or not this was something to pursue, it’s now an issue of when to seek out custom software development. Chances are, sooner will be better when it comes to bringing smartphones and tablets into the equation.

Beginning the process
According to nonprofit tech consultant Beth Kanter, the first place to start when working on an app for a nonprofit is to identify a purpose. Too often there is a likelihood that an app will be created without having a goal behind it. This is an easy way to build a useless piece of software.

“Unless an app makes a person’s life easier or better, the app won’t be used,” Kanter wrote. “To be certain that this is what will be accomplished, a nonprofit should clearly determine its goals for a project before embarking on the development of an app. If it is mission-based and serves the needs of the audience, then an app might be a worthwhile solution.”

This isn’t just true for nonprofits, but for any organization. Functionality is key for mobile apps, and if users don’t perceive one, they are less likely to adopt the program. Whether this software is directed at supporters or employees, an app has to fill a need in order to be successful.

Apps are becoming essential for nonprofits.Apps are becoming essential for nonprofits.

Custom development is imperative
Even more than having an app or a purpose behind it, it is essential to make sure that programs are developed for the specific organizations that use them. Custom software solutions are critical for all kinds of companies, and nonprofits are right up there with the others.

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For nonprofits, mobile is a strategy – not a solution

Mobile Strategy

Smartphones and tablets have simplified daily life for millions of people. Organizations have accepted that mobility is reality in the modern era, and as such they see value in application investments. Not only is this true for businesses and enterprises, but also for nonprofits.

The only way to succeed, however, is with a plan. It’s easy to say “we need an app to stay relevant,” but what is the program in question going to do?

“[I]f you develop a real reason to have an app (perhaps you offer deals and coupons for certain businesses who support your nonprofit, or offer updates on your progress and exclusive videos of your efforts), connecting with your audience through mobile can be a strategic move,” wrote Nonprofit Hub on its website.

There are a number of different tasks that a nonprofit organization can streamline through the use of mobile technology. From spreading the message to application-based fundraising, nonprofits have to invest in custom software solutions.

Increased visibility a major advantage to having an app 
Mobile programs allow for an interesting kind of engagement. It’s different than exposing people to a commercial, or even going out and trying to connect in person. Users feel as though they have more control over their experience, and may even be more inclined to donate to a nonprofit in need.

This brings us to another major advantage: fundraising. Donations are key for countless nonprofit organization, but drumming them up can be difficult. Some people may feel on-the-spot if approached in person, making them less likely to donate – even if only a little. Many donation drives also have a chance of catching people at a time when they don’t have any cash available. The idea of being able to support nonprofits through an application rather than try to explain why they can’t donate at the moment increases the likelihood that they will give any little bit than they can.

Additionally, nonprofit apps can take advantage of push notifications, which can help to keep donation goals and upcoming events front-of-mind for the target audience. It’s the phone’s features, like the camera, GPS and notification centers, that set it apart from other platforms.

“Being able to connect with your supporters through their personal mobile devices is probably the most powerful argument for creating a mobile app,” stated Fundraising IP contributor Marita Meegan. “When you take advantage of the fact that a smartphone is usual no more than a few feet from its user and your app takes advantage of all the capabilities of a mobile device, no PC or laptop can even come close to replicating the connectivity of a smartphone or tablet.”

Programs have to be fitted to nonprofits that use them
Not all applications are designed equally. Some solutions try to be everything to all organizations that use them. But the thing about it is that every entity – regardless of if they are in direct competition – operates very differently. Nonprofits have to make sure that the software they’re using is specifically designed for their individual needs.

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