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Pre 1990’s growing up, life was simple. No computers, no phones, no smart watches and definitely no Internet.

The idea of holograms and artificial intelligence was the stuff of sci-fi movies like Star Wars. As for 3D printing, VR and AR – those concepts didn’t even exist! And yet, just a few decades on, the thought of holograms beaming you in from anywhere in the world for a board meeting isn’t that far fetched.

But how will these rapid advances in technology impact the Australian fundraising and non-profit landscape? Are we immune from the digital disruption taking place? And how can we use technological innovations to our advantage?


1. Fundraising is about building relationships – how you do that depends on your audience

Some of our previous blog posts (Lifting the Millennial Mask, The Great Aussie Trust Crisis and Fundraising Trends for 2019) talk about the ever-evolving giving landscape, the next generation of donors, their perception of non-profits and how best to engage with them.

Have a gander, and you’ll see how important it is to take a multi-channelled approach when communicating with your donors.

They expect it.

And over the coming years we’ll see more and more non-profits using new technology to reach a younger audience, connect with them faster, draw them in and then, at the right moment, convert them into life-long mid-level and major givers.


2. Technology will force transparency

Our culture has shifted to one of mobility, impatience and instant gratification. We want information now. And if we don’t get it, we start to look elsewhere. So it’s no longer good enough to expect a donation, only to give an update 12 months later in an annual newsletter.

On the back of that, more donors are demanding transparency. They question where their money goes, how it’s used, if it even reaches the person or project they support, and what percentage is chewed up in red tape and staff salaries.

This is where charities can use technology to their advantage. But ensure you have a fundraising strategy in place to effectively leverage its power.

Social media provides a platform to open authentic conversations with the right people – to provide instant updates, to talk directly to supporters and to show them, in real time, how they are making an impact. It’s an easy way to restore faith, build trust and gain loyal donors.


3. Social media is giving rise to opportunistic fundraising campaigns

And it’s your job to jump on them!

Take the well-known ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, for example. It was a viral phenomenon back in 2014, where people dunked a bucket of iced water over their heads in order to solicit donations, before nominating others to do the same.

Big celebs got on board, including Mark Zuckerberg, Anna Wintour, Oprah and Tom Cruise. And despite heavy criticism that it was nothing more than ‘slactivism’, it raised $100 million in 30 days. The ALS Association was able to fully fund a number of research projects as a result.

But here’s the thing – the ALS Association didn’t start this challenge. A professional golfer did. And it wasn’t even for ALS to begin with. As it turned into a juggernaut, however, the ALS Association capitalised on the momentum, and benefited very nicely indeed.

Think about how you can leverage your donor appeal to a social media campaign – there are so many great examples of this happening. Redstone as your fundraising consultants, can help you create elements in your direct mail program to harness the benefits of an integrated social media campaign.


4. The right tools will give you smart data

Data is like the Holy Grail to fundraisers.

The more you know about your donors, the easier it will be to turn that information into dollars.

Technology is key here – a CRM is an effective tool to help you track all sorts of things, including a donor’s giving history, how they engage, who they’re related to and what they care about.

You can then use this to tailor your communications. All phone calls, emails and letters can be highly targeted. Donors love this. They’ll feel valued and appreciated, and more likely to support your cause.


5. The verdict?

The non-profit landscape is changing. It has changed.

There’s no avoiding the digital disruption taking place. So use it to your advantage. New technologies can help your organisation to stay relevant, and to engage with donors like never before.