Four technology trends that had a big impact on the not-for-profit sector in 2021
2 December 2021 at 7:00 am
Rapid changes in technology have both helped and challenged not for profits this year. Microsoft Nonprofit Partner of the Year 2021 finalist, Bremmar Consulting, explores four of the biggest tech trends that have impacted the sector.
If we thought the woes of 2020 were going to be short-lived, 2021 had other ideas. For many organisations, this year has been just as, if not more challenging, with prolonged lockdowns, revenue fluctuations, and talent shortages testing our resilience.
Despite these challenges, demand in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector hasn’t slowed. Research in May last year found that 44 per cent of NFPs have experienced increased demand for services during the coronavirus crisis, and this has continued into 2021.
Like for-profit businesses, not for profits have had to rapidly adapt their service offerings, rethink their working setup, and transform communication models to continue providing important services.
And technology has played a huge role in helping NFPs adapt to this new way of working. Here are four technology trends we observed in the not-for-profit sector over the past 12 months.
Trend one: NFPs shift to online service delivery, fundraising and communication
With restrictions on face-to-face interactions continuing for much of 2021, NFPs were forced to rethink the way they engage with customers, staff and volunteers.
Prolonged lockdowns and a general preference for working from home in 2021 saw a continuation of a lot of the remote working trends that were started in 2020. Enabling staff with the tools they need to do their jobs from home, from the field, or from the office was more important than ever.
We also saw NFPs adapt the way they serve their customers, with many services delivered online through telehealth and video interactions. According to Good Things Foundation’s Digital Nation Australia 2021 Report, 81 per cent of respondents said that they had to move at least part of their services online in the last year.
The stay-at-home requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes also made fundraising more challenging. McCrindle’s 2021 Australian Communities Report found Australians were open to new ways of giving, with four in five givers (81 per cent) open to participating in online fundraising initiatives. As a result, 45 per cent of engagement during 2021 has been online donations.
Trend two: A growing awareness around the importance of technology for NFPs
2021 forced us to rethink the way we interact with each other, calling for NFPs to embrace technology to improve collaboration and streamline processes. And it seems they’ve stepped up to this challenge.
According to a 2021 PwC survey nearly 80 per cent of NFP chief executives say digital upskilling has become a higher priority in the context of COVID-19.
And even for those who haven’t yet embraced digital transformation, there’s certainly a growing awareness around the use and benefits of technology. The same PwC survey found over three quarters (77 per cent) of leaders feel that employee and leadership knowledge of technology and its potential implications is improving.
Over the last 12 months, Bremmar has helped many NFPs understand and implement new technology to help them improve the way they work, such as:
- implementing Microsoft Teams Calling to enable people to have access to their landline wherever they are;
- moving files to the cloud to improve access to, and management of, important documents; and
- setting up forms and workflows to collect information and provide better reporting.
Trend three: Decentralised ownership of IT
Traditionally, IT has been its own department, managing the IT concerns of the organisation. But with cloud adoption on the rise and significant improvements in the ease of use of technology, many NFPs found individual departments are taking ownership of their own systems and apps.
While this approach is good for encouraging tech adoption, it can come with its own issues.
Generally speaking, more platforms and more users mean more data. And if it’s not controlled, organisations can easily lose track of the information they have. Adding more technology can also come with integration issues, and this can create silos within the business. It’s important that organisations have a strategy in place to make sure ownership is aligned and data is centralised.
It’s also a good idea to appoint internal champions to develop systems, suggest improvements, and drive adoption. We’ve worked with a number of NFPs and have found this hands-on approach has made a big difference to the ongoing success of digital transformation projects.
Trend four: Increased interest in the NFP sector from big tech
Technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors globally, but it seems big tech is not solely driven by making a profit. In recent years, there’s been increased focus on corporate philanthropy and many technology companies have been doing their part to help NFPs in their digital transformation efforts.
For example, Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) program makes cloud technology affordable so NFPs have access to the tools they need to effectively leverage technology and accelerate their missions.
Bremmar is proud to be part of a number of these programs including Microsoft’s TSI program and the Rhipe for Social Good program by Rhipe. Through these initiatives, we are able to offer affordable pricing to NFPs looking to move to the cloud.
By the numbers: Bremmar’s 2021 highlights
We believe this increased focus on technology in the NFP sector is really positive – it has certainly kept us extremely busy at Bremmar. We’ve done some number crunching and here are a few highlights from the last 12 months.
In 2021 the Bremmar team has:
- become the holistic partner for 19 NFPs for Managed Services and digital transformation journey
- completed 40 digital transformation projects for NFPs
- provided support for over 2,000 users
- spoken at eight events to educate NFP leaders on digital transformation using Microsoft 365
- grown to include 26 dedicated staff helping NFPs move to digital ways of working.
On top of this, Bremmar was also named as a finalist in Microsoft’s Partner of the Year 2021 awards in the Not-for-Profit category. We were so proud to be one of just three organisations globally that were recognised and look forward to continuing to help the NFP sector drive digital transformation in 2022.
Watch the video below to know the key Microsoft 365 challenges for NFPs as well as our plans for 2022!
How’s your IT planning and strategy for 2022 looking so far?
Whether it’s simply making it easier for team members to find files fast, or enabling collaboration across locations and multiple devices, we can help you adopt the latest technologies to work smarter and enable a more connected, secure and mobile workforce.
We help organisations just like yours
Bremmar is a Microsoft Gold Cloud Productivity partner and 2021 Microsoft Not-For-Profit Partner of the year finalist with 15 years’ experience in a range of Microsoft solutions.
Whether it’s simply making it easier for team members to find files fast, or enabling collaboration across locations and multiple devices, we help organisations adopt the latest technologies to work smarter and enable a more connected, secure and mobile workforce. We take the time to learn about how your organisation operates and can help you solve real-world business problems with fit-for-growth, results-driven, technology solutions that leverage the Microsoft stack.
Visit our website to read some case studies and glowing endorsements. We specialise in the NFP and aged care sectors so, from the start, we know more about you, the clients you serve, and the external pressures on your organisation.