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Significant Uplift in Australian NGOs Use of Online Technology

1 February 2017 at 9:28 am
Lina Caneva
New international research has revealed the use of online technology by Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) is on par, and in some cases, above average in global trends in what is being described as a surprising turnaround.

Lina Caneva | 1 February 2017 at 9:28 am


Significant Uplift in Australian NGOs Use of Online Technology
1 February 2017 at 9:28 am

New international research has revealed the use of online technology by Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) is on par, and in some cases, above average in global trends in what is being described as a surprising turnaround.

The 2017 Global NGO Online Technology Report by Nonprofit Tech for Good is based on the survey results of 4,908 NGOs from Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe, North America and South America.

According to the research, 98 per cent of Australian NGOs now have a website compared to the global average of 92 per cent. Of those, 78 per cent are mobile-compatible in Australia, on a par with the global average.


Australia’s use of social media by organisations also ranks highly on the global scale.

A total of 92 per cent of NGOs in Australia have a Facebook page (on par with 92 per cent of global trends). Small NGOs have an average of 3,014 likes, medium NGOs have 17,328 and large NGOs have 63,432.

Australian technology support not-for-profit Infoxchange partnered with Nonprofit Tech for Good on the research.

CEO of Infoxchange David Spriggs said Australia was now rating above average on the use of online technology and social media from a global perspective.

“I guess I was very pleasantly surprised to see the significant uplift if you look at where we were even a year or two ago as a sector compared to where we are at now,” Spriggs told Pro Bono News.

“Things like a significant increase in the number of mobile phone compatible websites for example where Australia was lagging behind significantly, it is really pleasing to see that in this report nearly 78 per cent of Australian NGO websites are now mobile compatible .

“Really pleasing as well [are the figures] around the use of social media. So this is a significant shift forward.”

Spriggs said that the survey results showed that the smaller charities had also improved.

“I think the challenge now is more how organisations are allocating their time and how they responding to this,” he said.

“In the survey for example it said that 39 per cent of NGOs have a written social media strategy. I think that’s still far too low. It’s ahead of where we were, but only 7 per cent of organisations have a full-time or part-time social media manager.

“So it becomes absolutely critical for organisations to work out what are the most effective channels for them and how are they using those channels rather than taking that scatter-gun approach of ‘we need to be on Facebook’ and ‘we need to be on Twitter’ and ‘we need to be on Instagram and LinkedIn’ and everything else and you only have two or three hours a week maybe of a staff member’s time to manage the channels.

“We really need to kind of reflect how do you make the most of those channels and how do you be most effective in communicating those things.”

He said the results were a wake up call for the sector around the importance of using online technology.

“Now it’s kind of how we can make the most of it and how we can be most effective.”

The report also looked at executive and board level interest in the use of online technology.

“The use of online technology to communicate with supporters and donors often [sees] a lot of organisations struggle to make that connection from the board and executive,” Spriggs said.

“And again it’s what are the channels that are most effective and how do you prioritise your time. Just because a board member said we should be on Twitter, [it’s about] working through whether that’s an effective channel and what it is actually bringing to the organisation.”

He said the statistics about the effectiveness of social media were really interesting.

“Ninety-four per cent are saying it’s effective for online brand awareness but only 55 per cent agree that it is effective for online fundraising.

“Again in fundraising there’s a whole mix of channels including the traditional direct mail through to social media and email and that whole mix. I think it is important for organisations to think about that mix.

“Statistically 27 per cent have been using social media for two years or less so when you think about it it’s still a very new thing for organisations and how can we provide resources for organisation to really get a better understanding of it and how to be able to track the effectiveness of it.

“Only 3 per cent of NGOs have been using social media for 10 years.”

Spriggs said another interesting result was around text messaging.

“Text messaging is low in Australia as a way of communicating with donors and supporters,” he said.

“I think that’s comparable to other developed countries like North America for example. But looking at Asia and Africa where 31 per cent and 39 per cent are using mobile text messages I think that’s the importance for international NGOs to see the differences between countries.

“Also in Australia I know that there’s been a move to accept more donations by text messaging so it is interesting that only 20 per cent of those that send text messages which is already a small per cent can actually accept donations… whereas that is 40 per cent globally.”

Infoxchange has been a long-time partner of Nonprofit Tech for Good – a global organisation which delivers training and looking at the effectiveness of the use of online technology.

“We will be using [the results] to inform the capacity building programs that we run with the sector in particular the ImproveIT initiative and using that as an awareness piece with the sector and also to target some of our programs and particularly from those areas we have talked about about how organisations can be allocating their resources and how to make some of those decisions and acknowledging that this is still very new for organisations,” Spriggs said.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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