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Downes Murray International News

Is online working for your NPO full-time?

If you consider that 74% of NGOs in Africa have a website, yet only 55% of these accept donations via their sites, it’s clear that there is still some way for us to go to maximise our online fundraising potential, writes Marisol Gutierrez.

These statistics, and other interesting findings, were revealed in the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report. Researched by Nonprofit Tech for Good and sponsored by the Public Interest Registry, the report is based on a survey of 5 352 NGOs in 164 countries, including South Africa.

By comparison to Africa’s 74%, almost all NGOs (98%) in North America have websites, of which 86% accept online donations. The global average points to 72% of NGOs worldwide accepting donations on their sites.

Having a website doesn’t mean you’re fundraising online . . . you need to drive potential supporters to your site, motivate reasons to give and ensure it’s safe and easy for supporters to donate online.

NGOs that are successful at online fundraising are guided by a strategy that includes stories of hope, coupled with prominent calls to action which are woven through their email appeals, websites and social media channels.

 While social media does inspire online giving, email is still the most powerful online fundraising tool. It’s no surprise, then, that 63% of NGOs regularly email updates and appeals to their supporters.

Digital wallets

Credit cards, PayPal and direct debit are listed as the most accepted forms of payment, although the report predicts that digital wallets and cryptocurrencies are likely to become more widely accepted in the future. Digital wallets are already being used innovatively: local online fundraising platform, WeBenefit, utilises this tech, calling its digital wallet a ‘WeWallet’.

While the report elegantly summarises the non-profit sector’s use of websites, social media and other tech, it also looks at the way in which NGOs are responding to the need for ever-tighter cybersecurity. Like the private sector, NGOs are also turning to encryption technology to secure their donor data, digital wallets and their communications, with 41% of NGOs using encryption technology.

While this growing trend is encouraging, the report urges NGOs to modernise how they manage and secure their data: ‘The outdated process of managing donor contact information and transactions through Excel and legacy CRM software is hindering NGOs and their ability to be efficient, data-driven organisations.’

Socially speaking

Early adopters of social media, such as the Humane Society and Greenpeace, were active on social networks long before brands climbed on the bandwagon or government started turning to them to communicate.

They began creating pages on Myspace and channels on YouTube in 2005, then Facebook Groups in 2006, and Twitter profiles shortly thereafter. The fact that social networks were free to use propelled NGOs worldwide to embrace social networking. If there’s one part of this report that deserves to be written in gold it’s this: ‘History does not give enough credit to the role that NGOs played in the rise of social networks.’

In case you were wondering, Greenpeace International’s Facebook page has 2 769 715 followers and Humane Society International, 1 095 313 . . . more by the time you read this.

What’s next?

Currently, only 15% of NGOs worldwide regularly send text messages to donors and supporters.

As cost and network charges are two key factors for the lack of growth of mobile fundraising in South Africa, what will make SMS-to-donate a sustainable way of giving in South Africa? What innovation will we see in this space that could radically shift the current status quo?

Marisol Gutierrez is Communications and Partnerships Manager at DMI. Share your NPO’s experiences with SMS campaigns by emailing 

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