Money & Business

Report: How Nonprofits Are Using Digital Platforms

By / Feb 18, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A new survey of nonprofit professionals finds that many nonprofits can see the advantages of digital outreach but struggle to integrate it into the full organization.

It feels like all we ever talk about is digital this and digital that.

And (admittedly) we do. But a new study suggests that, for nonprofits, there’s still a ways to go before digital integration truly takes hold. The 2015 Digital Outlook Report, released by Care2, hjc, and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), argues that even as the sector gets changed by technology, it’s new enough that “we can still consider digital to be an emerging field for our sector.”

For one thing, the study notes, most of the organizations surveyed don’t have staff dedicated to their digital and online strategies—in fact, just 43 percent of organizations say they do, with smaller organizations less likely to have digital staff than large ones.

NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward suggests, however, that many organizations are aware of the need to focus on digital, but the issue is finding the time to allow their staff to do so.

“It’s a matter of being strategic, not buying more technology,” Ward said in a news release.

Other highlights from the study:

Nonprofits going big on videos and pictures: Nearly 70 percent of respondents to the survey said they plan to put more focus on creating videos in 2015, and images were similarly bullish: 63 percent of respondents said they plan to on improve their focus on images, and 58 percent said they’ll improve their infographic plays. But not all pictures, moving or otherwise, got the same kind of love: Just 11 percent of respondents said they were looking to increase their focus on memes, while 30 percent said they plan to decrease their memetic focus.

Email marketing remains king … but Facebook and Twitter are close behind. The study found that 94 percent of nonprofits rely on emails, while 88 percent rely on Facebook and 79 percent on Twitter. All three digital methods top some old standbys: 64 percent of respondents use direct mail, while just 23 percent use telemarketing. “Organizations have not only adapted to email marketing and social media,” the study states, “but are now creating entire strategies to guide the work done within each channel.” Newer social technologies like Pinterest and Instagram are still growing among nonprofits.

Content marketing matters: When it comes to lead generation, nonprofits have their eye on building focused content—with three-in-five respondents saying that they plan to use a content marketing strategy. The study notes, however, that the terminology of lead generation can often confuse marketers: “It is interesting that nearly 60% of respondents indicated that a ‘content marketing strategy’ is how they will approach donor lead recruitment in 2015, but only 23% of respondents indicated that they will test an ‘inbound marketing strategy.'”

Interested in reading the full study? You can download it from the NTEN website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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