Looking Ahead: Nonprofit Technology Trends in 2021

This past year transformed how nonprofit organizations fundraise, organize, and collaborate. Despite the difficulties in securing funding, 2020 challenged organizations to explore new strategies, leverage new digital tools, and fearlessly work toward mission fulfillment.

What’s ahead for 2021? Here are our predictions:

1. The nonprofit C-Suite’s renewed focus on technology

Nonprofit organizations are often haunted by poor technology decisions made by individuals inexperienced in modern, cloud-based architecture. The current challenges nonprofits faced this year were exacerbated all while economic turmoil placed increasing pressure to raise funds and deliver mission-critical work. Many organizations found themselves wishing they would have begun their digital transformation journey months or years ago.

As we approach year-end and look ahead to 2021, we predict a renewed emphasis on technology as a strategic advantage versus an overhead expense. Beyond the importance of maintaining business continuity, cloud-based technology layered with analytics empowers the C-Suite to make strategic decisions based on real-time data. Furthermore, the C-Suite cannot turn a blind eye to the security concerns of outdated architecture as data breaches jeopardize the long-standing trust built with donors.

Technology decisions can no longer fall on one or two members of the IT team, nonprofit organizations must prioritize digital transformation as a strategic imperative in order to tackle current challenges and plan for the future.

2. Increased need for seamless, remote work experiences

At the start of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams had 32 million active users. This increased to 75 million in April, and today, there are 115 million. This explosive growth demonstrates the ubiquity of the Microsoft platform as today’s productivity and collaboration environment of choice.

Earlier this month, Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7 billion; their attempt to create an integrated communication tool within their CRM environment. This acquisition again indicates the desire for consolidated platforms that fuel interconnectivity and data sharing.

In today’s work-from-anywhere culture, users will continue to demand seamless, interactive work experiences that reduce friction and increase knowledge and connection. With StratusLIVE 365, nonprofit staff engage with donor data directly within the familiar environments of Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

3. Reimagined virtual events and online engagement opportunities.

At the beginning of the pandemic, nonprofits scrambled to translate in-person volunteer and fundraising experiences into virtual ones. In-person walks and runs converted into at-home events with coordinated Spotify playlists and social media toolkits. Lavish galas and award ceremonies transformed into live-stream events with associated giving pages.

Now that many nonprofit organizations have successfully executed online events, 2021 is the year nonprofits must transform these events from purely virtual to interactive, personal, and transformative experiences. One such way is to experiment with DIY Campaigns within StratusLIVE Ignite Give with Friends that allow a donor to utilize his or her personal passions to fundraise. Is your donor passionate about rock climbing, or does he or she want to host a virtual baking session? The sky’s the limit with opportunities, and the best part is all campaigns can be easily managed within StratusLIVE Ignite.

4. Demand for real-time, easily digestible analytics

The economic climate of today is vastly different from what it was six months to a year ago. These differences make it challenging to evaluate past campaign performance on a year over year or month over month basis. Now and into 2021, nonprofit organizations need immediate access to current data and in-app reporting to enable quicker, more confident decision making.

With embedded Power BI within StratusLIVE 365, nonprofit professionals no longer have to comb through copious amounts of data to determine trends or variances. With visualizations and guidance, fundraising professionals have a more-informed view of their success and accurately plan for the future.

5. Growing reliance on in-app training

With any CRM implementation, users must actively utilize the platform each and every day to benefit from the tool. Beyond frequent utilization, training is also paramount for effective and efficient platform usage. Now that in-person learning and training isn’t commonplace, users rely upon in-app training to fuel platform understanding and increase usage. With StratusLIVE’s new partnership with ClickLearn, users have access to videos, downloads, and assistance. This style of training provides more personalized user experiences which challenges the traditional, generic classroom style trainings of the past.

StratusLIVE recently announced our near-term product roadmap which outlines our vision of the the future of nonprofit technology. If you’re ready to explore the benefits of a purpose-built modern CRM and online engagement platform, contact us today.

Posted by Kelly Perry

Kelly Perry is a Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has over eight years marketing and communications experience within nonprofit technology and the publishing industries.

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