It’s a year of promise and opportunity for nonprofits around the globe. Chock-full of new technology and exciting advancements, I am excited to see the ways in which emerging technologies start to find themselves in the social good space.
Here are a few trends to watch for as the year progresses.
1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have emerged as sought-after technologies with the power to impact virtually every vertical, including social good.
When it comes to social good organizations, VR can have significant impacts. Facebook currently owns a company called Oculus, which recently debuted a “VR for Good” program which has seen a lot of success. This program joined a handful of nonprofits and filmmakers to create material for various virtual reality experiences, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival in late January 2018.
Much of what we’re seeing now is 360 video rather than true interactive experiences, but it’s a start. Charity Water recently launched a VR experience called “The Source.” According to Adweek, the experience helped them raise over $2.4 million, reporting that one donor originally committed $60,000 but after seeing the video donated $400,000.
VR is unique in that it can create connections across borders and oceans. It has real and tangible implications for the social good atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, the space has a ways to go before it is widely adopted but, in my opinion, we have hit a tipping point and we’ll start to see exponential growth in terms of development and usage in the coming decade.
2. Mobile First
With the rise of mobile devices, more people are accessing the internet from their phones instead of their desktops. In light of this, websites must offer a mobile-friendly experience. If they don’t, your organization could miss capturing critical audiences.
Mobile-friendly sites feature things like responsive design, “hamburger” menus, high-resolution images and no default zoom. As someone who spends most of their day in front of a desktop computer, it is easy to forget that a fair number of people access the web mainly from their mobile device.
3. Impact Investing
Impact investing is an investment made to a company or organization with the distinct purpose of creating a measurable social or environmental impact, as well as a financial return. Impact investing has been on the rise in recent years, and will continue to balloon in popularity throughout 2018. We’re seeing more companies incorporate a triple bottom line — aiming to turn a profit but also make a positive impact. And the Case Foundation, a client of ours, is among players bringing transparency to impact investing data with its Impact Investing Network Map.
This presents a great opportunity for social good organizations. In 2017, investors committed upwards of $22.1 billion to impact investments, and that number is only projected to rise this year.
4. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
We are seeing private corporations double down on their corporate social responsibility programs. Whether it’s baking this into their core business model (TOMS) or launching a separate division dedicated to CSR (Dove’s self-esteem project), this movement is on the rise.
While this is good for society overall, it is also creating more competition. CSR programs are typically well-funded and backed by very savvy marketers and technologists. Remember, your supporters have limited time and money, and these CSR programs provide new competition for traditional nonprofits.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As AI advances, nonprofits can expect to see AI integration across the board. At Creative Science Labs, we have used tools like Crystal, which determine a person’s DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness, compliance) profile and recommend communication tactics. These tools are becoming more popular and are ideal for any nonprofit that wants to personalize its message to individual supporters.
More nonprofits will also be using chatbots in coming years. Not only are these a streamlined way to communicate with and capture potential donors, but they’re also a great way to engage supporters and donors without having to staff the conversation on the back end.
As 2018 progresses, the nonprofits around you will be taking advantage of advancements such as artificial intelligence, mobile-first web design and chatbots. The only question now is, will you be prepared to follow suit?
A version of this post originally appeared here.