Humans have always dreamed about the future. In the past couple of centuries or so, we’ve let our collective imagination run wild with dreams of flying cars, holograms, and space travel. We don’t have any flying cars (although we are getting closer and closer to self-driving cars), but we do have some pretty amazing technology that we use every day. What’s even more exciting than the tech we use on a day-to-day basis is some of the technology that geniuses and innovators are developing — and those inventions are going to make a huge impact on the nonprofit sector. Here are some of our favorite up-and-coming technologies and how they might affect the future of fundraising:
- Virtual reality
- Wearable technology
- Geo-fencing and beacons technology
- Digital wallets
1. Virtual reality
You work really hard to tell your donors engaging stories. But what if you could put your donors in your story to let them live it for themselves?
That’s a dream that may come true thanks to advances in virtual reality. People are already experimenting with combining virtual reality and fundraising; recently, an organization ran a test in London where pedestrians used Google Glass to see a virtual reality tour of Aleppo, the Syrian city that’s been ravaged by the country’s ongoing civil war. The tour resulted in a 16% increase in giving after participants saw the impact of the war upon the city’s people.
2. Wearable technology
Wearable technology is already here—FitBits, the Apple Watch, and similar products are all considered wearable tech. Its effect on the future of fundraising, though, is not fully recognized. Fundraisers are just getting started with the exploration of tapping into wearable tech, but the possibilities are nearly endless.
What if we could allow people on the other side of the country to participate in a charity 5K by tracking their activity on their FitBit? What if donors could give in the blink of an eye by scanning their smart watch? What if people could use the augmented reality feature of their smart glasses to see and respond to immersive fundraising displays? What other amazing uses will fundraisers devise for wearable tech?
3. Geo-fencing and beacons technology
If you’ve ever used the Starbucks app, you’ve probably been exposed to geo-fencing, which is when the app senses when you’re within a certain distance of a Starbucks and sends you a notification reminding you to stop by. The app uses geo-fencing, which allows users to set up a virtual “fence” around a certain area and when people who use the app enter that area, they automatically receive notifications, text messages, or other alerts. Beacon technology is similar. Small “beacons” can be set to message or alert people within a certain proximity.
The technology has some fascinating applications that would be useful for nonprofits. Churches could push messages to their congregants to remind them to buy tickets to that night’s spaghetti dinner, for example, or nonprofits could remind event attendees to buy raffle tickets once they arrive at the venue.
We wrote about this fundraising concept in our blog post on nonprofit trends. But the use of digital wallets is happening right now and is only poised to increase with time. Visa’s Payment Panel found that in 2020 credit card payments were up 10% while check payments decreased 20%. This shows that people are looking for more immediate and efficient ways to make payments. The solution is often a digital wallet, which stores payment information and makes it available with the push of a button while still keeping important details safe and secure.
Another consideration nonprofits must make is the rise of cryptocurrency. While still not a mainstream payment method, many people have begun investing in this digital currency and found it to be a worthwhile venture. Even some nonprofits have begun accepting crypto donations to get ahead of the curve.
But what is cryptocurrency? According to Investopedia, it is a “digital or virtual currency secured by cryptography and based on a network that is distributed across a large number of computers.” This makes cryptocurrency nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.
Essentially, cryptocurrency enables secure online payments without the use of third-party intermediaries. While not used often in retail, it’s become popular for trading and investing. This is where your nonprofit may benefit.
Our last piece of futuristic fundraising technology is ChatGPT, which is an artificial intelligence program that can revolutionize the way that nonprofits fundraise. While mainly used to write copy, it can also help nonprofits come up with new fundraising ideas. By typing in a prompt to ChatGPT, the program will produce results from across the internet that you can use to come up with new fundraising ideas such as unique appeals or events.
Additionally, instead of working for hours to craft the perfect appeal or letter of thanks, ChatGPT can study your appeals and thank you letters and generate copy based on your previous work. This can save you a ton of time writing and is great for defeating writer’s block and effortlessly tacking first drafts. From there, you just refine your messaging until the appeal is donor ready.
Nobody can predict the future of fundraising with 100% accuracy, but some up-and-coming tech could open new doors to fundraisers. Whether donors start using virtual reality, wearable tech, or geo-fencing remains to be seen, but those bits of technology offer a thrilling glimpse into the fundraising methods of the future.