Key Take-Away’s for Nonprofit IT Trends in 2013

August 2, 2013


According to Moore’s Law, computer hardware is improving at an exponential rate. Many argue that Moore’s law also applies to how technology and technology-related websites & services have changed over time. Not only are these things improving as a whole, but they are also changing at an exponential rate. What would have taken years to make possible in 2000 is now possible to create in mere weeks, days or even hours!

For example, in an earlier blog post, I wrote that any 6-character password hashed a certain way can now be cracked within 2 minutes (or less!)

Several articles and blog posts appeared near the beginning of this year predicting what IT trends would affect nonprofit organizations the most, including this one by Wealth Works on “Three Trends for Nonprofits to Watch in 2013“. The Nonprofit Times also published a short article in September 2012 on “7 Trends affecting the nonprofit sector“, which includes the following as one of their predictions:

Communication technologies. Exciting and revolutionary developments in technology offer new and fast-changing opportunities to organizations, particularly in their communication efforts.

The 2013 Millennial Impact Report, released last month, indicates many of these predictions were correct, including “Millennials prefer to connect via technology”:

They use websites and search engines primarily for information-gathering, finding volunteer opportunities, and donating online. They rely on social media and email for communicating and connecting with their networks, while mobile technology gives them instant access to all these channels.

At Develop CENTS, part of our vision is to help nonprofits, particularly those in the community development / community improvement space, develop their technological capacity. One of the ways in which we do that is to keep up with current IT trends in the nonprofit industry so that we can best advise and assist our clients.

Technology – be it hardware, software, or services – is only going to continue to evolve and improve over time. Keeping up with these changes and trends take time and work.

Here are a few of our own take-away’s for the most recent technology trends we’ve seen in the nonprofit industry:

  • Social Media is increasingly important. Don’t leave it to the interns
    Your Social Media platforms (via your website, blog, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, LinkedIn, etc.) are your brand’s identity. Would you allow an intern to serve as your primary development coordinator that meets with potential donors face-to-face? Social Media (and your entire online presence) is increasingly becoming more important (and is especially important to younger generations). Hire a professional, or at least put someone in charge of our online presence who knows your organization well.
  • Technology costs are an investment, not an undue burden
    As the National Council of Nonprofits points out,

    Technology is essential to effectively advancing and managing a nonprofit. Especially in tough economic times, thoughtful use of technology can be the most efficient way for a nonprofit to communicate more effectively, engage with donors, evaluate programs and schedule volunteers, or simply research and keep up-to-date on legal requirements and funding opportunities (

    While nonprofit organizations certainly do need to watch their budget, they need to be willing to make an investment into technology tools and services that will actually help them become more efficient. Websites and services such as TechSoup help to make these technology costs as low as possible.

  • Use technology for audience engagement, not for traditional marketing
    Millennials (and others) like stories and like to be engaged. Technology has turned online communication into a two-way conversation. Traditional marketing techniques are no longer effective. Before, it was a one-way street, but now, people like to talk back.

    Engage your audience, create conversations, and don’t always try to make a “sale” – otherwise, you will turn off your potential donor or client, leaving a bad taste in their mouth.

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