News for Nonprofits

Chatbots can help you do more for less

The popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp is spurring the growth of chatbots, and, slowly but surely, nonprofits are getting on board. Organizations are using chatbots — computer programs used to exchange messages that feel like conversations between people — in several areas, including donor queries, storytelling, data gathering, HR and community organizing.

For example, the World Food Program rolled out its “Food Bot” last year. The chatbot, which works on Facebook Messenger, helps the program monitor food insecurity in hard-to-reach places, as well as provide useful information to the affected communities. UNICEF’s U-Report collects opinions and issues from young people on a range of topics. Working with government partners, it uses the feedback to shape policy.

Charity athletic events hit the wall

Some of the charity athletic events that have provided reliable financial support to many nonprofits for decades are running out of gas. According to Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, which conducts an annual benchmark study, the 30 largest U.S. peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns saw a 6.7% drop in funds raised in 2017. Revenues for those campaigns have declined every year since peaking at $1.71 billion in 2012, falling to $1.45 billion in 2017. Nonprofit executives cite the difficulty of competing with so many similar events.

Some organizations are trying to make their existing events — whether running, cycling, walking, dancing or other — more focused and efficient. Others are launching new, more customized programs to appeal to supporters’ evolving interests. Experts also suggest organizations adjust to a shorter “life cycle” for events — expecting them to run, say, five years rather than 20.

Amazon enables “voice donations”

“Alexa, make a donation to … .” Amazon has rolled out a new feature in its popular virtual voice assistant. The app lets users verbally direct a donation to nearly 50 nonprofits using the credit cards linked to their accounts.

Amazon collects a 2.2% processing fee for domestic transactions, along with a $0.30 authorization fee. Organizations also can add a “Donate with Amazon” button to their websites to allow donors to use their Amazon accounts for contributions.

Facebook offers Workplace platform to organizations for free

Facebook is now making its popular Workplace available to nonprofit staff and volunteers at no charge. Workplace is a chat and communication platform that looks just like Facebook, with the same ability to post status updates, create groups, read and like updates in a News Feed, share photos and live video and deliver real-time translation. Employees unfamiliar with workplace apps like Slack and Hangout Chats, but who use Facebook, may adapt to Workplace more easily. More than 2,000 nonprofits already use the platform.