Nonprofits are doubling down on their use of text, webchat, and other digital technologies to better reach the people they serve, a trend that accelerated during COVID-19 and is expected to continue doing so.
The findings by Twilio, a digital engagement consultancy that works with businesses and nonprofits to improve how they communicate with clients, are summarized in a recent 42-page report the company compiled from responses provided what report authors referred to as hundreds of nonprofit employees and program participants it surveyed earlier this year.
“COVID-19 accelerated a shift that was already picking up speed in the social impact sector,” according to the report’s authors. “An increasing number of people use digital channels and tools to assist with everything from meetings at work to conversations with family to engaging with causes they care about. In turn, nonprofits have found that they need to communicate on the channels their program participants prefer if they want to grow their impact.”
To build awareness of their programs and more efficient and scalable ways of delivering them, nonprofit managers will be increasingly reliant on developers to help them build the required infrastructure. Doing so will require significant investment, which could present a challenge for organizations that depend on restrictive, short-term, project-specific funding models.
The challenge for fundraisers at those nonprofits will be to persuade donors of the benefits to be had over the long run by allocating resources in the short term needed to develop more personalized communication tools, which 77% of respondents identified as a priority for the coming year, according to the authors.
Civil rights, social action, healthcare and advocacy organizations have taken the lead in using a more personalized approach to spur their clients to action, such as making a plan to vote or visit the doctor, data in the report shows.
While older people typically place a premium on being able to make appointments and communicate by email, text and phone calls, millennials and members of Gen Z are more apt to favor messaging apps, video conferencing and webchat.
“Understanding these differences will allow nonprofits to better craft their engagement strategies to match their unique audience,” the report states.