The digital word is constantly changing. Every year there are new digital trends to catch up with and new marketing challenges to face if the non-profit sector doesn’t want to miss out on opportunities for finding new donors. It’s all about timing: over 10 years ago organizations began to acknowledge the value of search engine marketing; then they started to consider if they needed a social media presence or not; next it was the time of digital fundraising, responsive web design, video advertising, and so on.
What will be the top non-profit digital trends of 2018? Let’s take a look together.
For many non-profits, even when most traffic comes from mobile, most donations still happen on desktop, which retains the highest conversion rate.
If your organization is one of them, 2018 should be about improving your mobile donations process. According to Statista, mobile usage in Ireland will continue to grow in 2018, reaching 3.59 million users from 3.42 million in 2017. Branded and mobile-friendly donation pages receive 38% more submissions.
There are three main features to review in your donation process:
- Usability: how many clicks does it take to donate from mobile on your website? The higher the number of steps the higher the drop off rate. How many fields are there in the donation forms? Do you need them all? Remove all unnecessary fields that may discourage donors to complete the donation. Fewer fields result in better donation experience.
- Design: if you website is not responsive yet, then this should be your top priority in 2018. If it is responsive, make sure that the donation process is seamless, without confusing menus, lengthy copy, too big or too small fonts, awkward buttons and a pleasant and consistent visual experience throughout the whole donation process.
- Payment methods: consider using Paypal, Apple Pay, Android Pay for faster and easier donation forms. This article lists some interesting options.
You could even consider creating a mobile donation app to give easier access to your loyal donors.
Videos always seem to be the trend of the year, don’t they? Well, as a matter of fact, they still are. Also, there’s increasing engagement with on-demand and real-time videos. Storytelling will also increase in 2018 and there’s nothing better than a video to tell a story. Videos can inform, inspire, enagage, create awareness and promote empathy. Read more in our article Explainer Videos for Awareness Campaigns.
Facebook for Fundraising
In recent years Facebook has deployed a number of fundraising tools and initiatives, and some of them have just recently been made available in Ireland.
New tools and initiatives include:
- Mentorship and support for non-profit organizations
- Charitable giving tools – including page donate buttons, ad donate buttons, page posts donate buttons and live videos donate buttons
- New fundraisers API will enable people to sync their off-Facebook fundraising efforts to Facebook fundraisers
- New community help API will give disaster response organizations access to data from public Community Help posts, a crisis response tool where people can ask for and give the help they need to recover following a crisis.
- Blood Donations Feature, allowing organizations to connect to blood donor more easily 
You don’t need to go too far to find your influencers. By asking your supporters to advocate for your cause, you will find your influencers right there in your database. Influencers with a bigger follower base will grow your campaign’s reach exponentially.
Influencers can go from your “Everyday Influencer” with 2000 followers on his/her Twitter account and who is passionate about your cause, to VIP Influencers, celebrities who could be engaged as your campaign’s ambassadors. 
Influencer Marketing is growing and is here to stay, particularly if you want to reach the newest generations – Millenials and Gen Z.
Internet of things
Objects connected to the Internet collect valuable data that can be used by non-profit to mould new communication strategies and forge new bonds with donors.
Data can be collected form charity work on the field and shared with donors to show how impactful their donations are: for example, a charity working in developing countries can show its donors real time information about the use of a water well by installing a sensor to monitor how much water is extracted every day.
The healthcare sector has been revolutionized by alert and sensor wearable devices. At the same time, people tend to share more information from devices connected to the Internet, like activities, location, information about their homes or health information that can help charities to better profile prospect donor personas.
The use of Virtual Reality by non-profit organizations is one of the new frontiers of fundraising, allowing donors to experience realities that are often far away and difficult to imagine. In turn, these experiences increase awareness, evoke empathy and are likely to prompt action.
The non-profit sector is at the forefront of harnessing new VR trends to enhance their communication with new and existing donors. A Nielsen study about the use of Virtual Reality and attitudes towards charities found that:
- Potential adopters of virtual reality (PaVRs) are more likely to donate to a charity than non-PaVRs (57% vs 51%)
- They are also are more likely to volunteer at a non-profit (43% vs 34%) and contact a government representative (22% vs 16%).
- 84% of consumers were able to recall the charity brand after viewing a VR video.
- 48% of users who viewed the VR content were likely to donate afterwards, versus 38% non-users
- VR users were also likely to donate more
Read more about Virtual reality for Non-Profits in our article here
Google Grant Account Updates
Google recently published some changes in Ad Grants policies that will take effect from the 1st of January 2018. Some of the most important updates include:
- the account will need to maintain an average 5% Click-Through-Rate each month. This is quite important as if the requirement isn’t met for two consecutive months the account will be cancelled.
- Some keywords will not be permitted anymore, such as single-word keywords, or overly generic keywords
- Keywords will have to have a quality score higher than two
- An account must have at least two active ad groups per campaign with relevant keywords, two active text ads and at least two sitelink ad extensions
Moreover, according to Google “any account found in violation of program policies is subject to automatic suspension without notification. Accounts that fall out of compliance can adjust the issue and request reinstatement.” This is certainly a big change and non-profits need to get ready for it.
The good news is that Google is lifting the program’s $2.00 USD bid cap when using Maximize conversions bidding.
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