Happy 10th Birthday iPhone: How Mobile Technology is Changing Nonprofits

Brooke Battle
Written by :

Brooke Battle

Categories: Event Tech

The iPhone turned ten last week. As a result of having it in our lives, we now rarely get lost in a new city, we’re never out of touch AND know everyone’s birthday (fundamentally raising the bar for birthday wishes!), we have instant access to banking, news, a ride (Lyft), purchasing anything (Amazon), recipes (Food Network), traffic updates (Waze), knowledge (Ted), even booking a conference room in the building. Seriously, I could save someone’s life with the CPR app to remind me of the procedure (have you downloaded it?—the American Heart Association would appreciate it!).

The iPhone, and the birth of smart phones, is among the most transformative in technology. For us, it was the catalyst for the first Smart Party (a fundraiser where guests use their smart phones to give and crowdsource donations real-time) and our software to run that event. For nonprofits, new technology can have incredible impact but for most, I expect, it felt like one more new thing to understand.

How the iPhone impacted nonprofits: 

  • Nonprofit websites HAD to become mobile-optimized, especially donation pages. We quickly learned the word ‘responsive design’.
  • Nonprofit service and cause information can be delivered via entirely different channels particularly as the adoption and access to the internet spread widely among our most vulnerable citizens.
  • Service delivery and impact could be accomplished at a lower cost and the organizational mission could shift. (Example: American Heart Association adopted technology to spread CPR awareness.)
  • Let me reiterate No. 3 again – Nonprofits faced the opportunity but also the challenge of fundamentally changing how their mission could be delivered.
  • New Job Descriptions (and quite possibly the scariest) – Director of Digital Giving, Social Media manager, etc.
  • Transparency – the earliest adopters of social channels and communication advanced by the smart phone have emerged as the most transparent and adaptable nonprofits. For causes, transparency on the internet also means connecting with donors online.
  • Giving via phone – instant gifts, text to give and peer-to-peer sharing open up entirely new possibilities for reaching donors.

What’s next?

  • Donor and client stories connecting organically online thereby creating a powerful network effect for your nonprofit.
  • Increased transparency – the more we know the better BUT… nonprofits will be exposed just as businesses are when services, donor relations, or events are not executed well.
  • Event Innovation – Event tech is alive and well in the corporate event sector and will leap into the nonprofit event space. If you're intimdated to start event tech, we suggest checking out a BizBash Live conference (and are even offering a special Swell discount code of 20% off tickets!). 
  • Planned Giving will be impacted by tech adoption. While current donors at the planned giving stage may not be tech savvy, they want to support an organization that is sustainable and know it means adoption of emerging technologies.

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