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:
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 look at a cancer center with Google Glass and get updates on how much money is needed to complete its construction? 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. 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. 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.
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.
For more info, check out our Asking for Donations Fundraising Primer!