How Nonprofits Can Take Advantage of Technology to Grow and Serve

March 03,2021

In times of crisis, the services of nonprofits are more essential than ever. Adapting multiple forms of technology can seriously help nonprofits better connect and serve their constituents in timely and sensitive ways.

While the devastating events of 2020 may have helped dramatically accelerate technological innovation, the outlook was much bleaker for many human lives. As the world battled catastrophic amounts of death, unemployment, and a myriad of other tragedies caused by the pandemic, many nonprofits stepped up their services to save the day. 

Several nonprofits provided free food, shelter, mental health services, or employment resources. Technologically-inclined ones such as Code for America developed several desktop and mobile apps to help people connect to one another and participate in community activities from home. To accomplish this, many nonprofits turned to technology to better understand and engage with their constituents in order to sensitively provide the most appropriate services. Automation also helped make sense of large volumes of data. 

Here’s a few ways we’ve seen nonprofits use technology to be an stronger asset to their communities:


Quality website design.

A website that quickly broadcasts your mission and evokes empathy will help keep visitors engaged. For example, a high-quality image of your constituents at the top of your homepage with a concise but impactful message on top instantly delivers the jist of what you’re about. 

That’s what we’re seeing below on Kitten Rescue’s website (pictured below) strikes an enthusiastic first impression with their photography and lively, straightforward copy. Scroll down to see just how easy their website is to read and understand due to their formatting, typography, and color palette.

The more informative and user-friendly your website is, the easier it is for a user to understand whether you can help them or not or why they should donate. A (not too aggressively) noticeable donate button in the menu streamlines the digital donation process. 

To better serve communities, interview your constituents to better understand what they’re seeking as they’re opening your homepage. If possible, try placing links to these needs on the top of your homepage to immediately make it clear how you can help. 

For example, domestic violence organization SOS Violence Conjugale’s homepage begins with a welcoming question, followed by links that reflect multiple reasons why their users are usually on their site. 

Their phone number is already displayed at the top to lessen the burden of searching for it. A large emergency exit button is clearly presented on the lower right corner to quickly open an unrelated website in case the abuser unexpectedly shows up. 


Donor relationship management systems.

To respond to pandemic-related demand, donors really stepped it up in 2020 and gave millions more than the previous year.  If you’re fortunate enough to experience a flux of donations, consider using a donor management system that’ll go beyond your Excel sheets. These systems track a donor’s history with your organization, gift sizes, and interactions with your staff. 

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud provides such a service and allows you to view all this information all in one place, making it easier to figure out which donors should be prioritized in your outreach. It even uses artificial intelligence to make some suggestions for you!


Volunteer management systems.

If you work with a lot of volunteers, tracking their relationship with your organization can be difficult and error-prone. We recommend Volunteers for Salesforce, a Salesforce app that gathers several volunteer details such as availability and skill level. The app doesn’t just tell you who they are, but also what they’re doing -- they can sign up for shifts and report their hours. To better ensure that they’re showing up, you can also send email reminders from the app. 


Virtual communication systems.

If you’re looking to scale but may not have the budget to expand your staff, having a chatbot made might be more affordable in the long run. Many companies nowadays use chatbots to provide 24/7 customer service for common queries.  

As a nonprofit, you may have reasons beyond just convenience to use a chatbot. Sometimes your constituents might need immediate support, but calling you or walking in your office may not be the best options due to their circumstances. They may need to watch over children or they may themselves be children of parents unaccepting of their situation, such as having a mental illness or being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Speaking audibly on the phone may not be the safest option for some.

Offering a discreet way to chat online or send text messages can conveniently and safely connect you to those you serve in real time. The interaction doesn’t have to be entirely AI-powered, rather AI would direct your users to the appropriate human staff member. 

Moving forward

Whatever your unique thoughts and needs are of your nonprofit’s digital transformation, it’s important to work with the right team and tools who can understand your mission and impact goals. 

SM Innovation’s full-stack software engineers and UX designers will transform your website while our Salesforce developers will consult with your team on best practices so you can better support your staff and community and with utmost sensitivity to their circumstances and changing needs. So reach out to us whenever you’d like and tell your story!