Nonprofit Trends Report: Technology Fuels Relevance and Growth

Nonprofit Trends Report: Technology Fuels Relevance and Growth


Getty / Thomas Barwick

Digitally mature nonprofits exceed organizational goals, including 4x more likely to have exceeded mission goals. Nonprofits thrive on relationships. Achieving a nonprofit mission requires strong connections to stakeholders — including employees, donors, volunteers, program participants, and more, according to the latest nonprofit research.

The fifth edition of Salesforce’s Nonprofit Trends Report reveals how organizations that have embraced technology have the strongest relationships and highest goal attainment rates, regardless of size, revenue or their location. Here are the four main takeaways:

  1. The strategic use of technology is directly linked to improving efficiency and organizational performance across operations. Nonprofits with a high level of digital maturity are more likely to exceed their goals and have stronger relationships with all stakeholder groups.
  2. Technology has clear benefits for nonprofit culture and workforce. Digitally mature nonprofits report more motivated and optimistic employees, a more positive organizational culture, and lower levels of burnout. These organizations are also further along in achieving their climate action and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals.
  3. Nonprofits recognize the importance of technology to achieve their goals, but struggle to implement it to its full potential. While nearly three-quarters (74%) of nonprofits say digital transformation is a “necessary” or a “must have,” only 12% score high on Salesforce’s Digital Maturity Index for Nonprofits. non-profit organizations.
  4. Barriers to digital maturity can include budget or resource constraints and competing priorities. Nonprofits are doubling down on employee retention and wellness to offset internal challenges such as increased revenue and staff burnout. Externally, nonprofits focus on outreach and fundraising to diversify and reconnect with their supporters. Overall, nonprofits feel resilient and ready for the future.

My main takeaways from this report will focus on using technology to achieve better results and stakeholder benefits. The Nonprofit Trends Report is a 58-page document with incredible insights, but I would like to focus this article on digital transformation and the use of technology in nonprofits.

The Nonprofit Landscape

Over the past 12 months, the majority of nonprofits have met or exceeded their overall goals, particularly their program, financial, and mission goals. Despite high rates of goal attainment, nonprofits face a litany of challenges ranging from raising awareness and retaining staff to measuring impact and beyond. The top four challenges for nonprofits are: 1. Raising awareness, 2. Retaining staff, 3. Hosting in-person events and controlling expenses.


Nonprofits struggle to raise awareness and retain staff.

Selling power

In the coming year, nonprofits anticipate challenges related to staffing and the state of the economy, technology, finances, and fundraising. This is reflected in how nonprofits shift their priorities in the coming year, with 48% placing more emphasis on fundraising, 46% on staff retention, and 44% on employee well-being.

Today, nonprofit leaders are slightly more optimistic about their own organizations (65%) than their country’s nonprofit sector as a whole (58%). Nonprofits are also confident in the role their organizations play in society: 74% say they think society trusts nonprofits to do the right thing.


Employee retention and well-being are top priorities, second only to fundraising.

Selling power

Nonprofits report weaker relationships with volunteers and donors – two stakeholder groups critical to mission achievement and organizational continuity.


The strength of stakeholder relationships varies from sector to sector.

Selling power

Digital transformation is a driver of growth and impact

Over the next 12 months, nonprofits will prioritize cybersecurity and privacy (39%), add new programs and services (27%), or implement remote work models (26%). %). Online services to increase revenue and engagement are also a priority for nonprofit organizations.

A significant minority of nonprofits (46%) report making strategic decisions quickly. These nimble nonprofits describe their organizations as technology-embracing (51%), adaptive (51%), empowered (50%), forward-looking (48%), and innovative (48%). These traits constitute a “positive mindset for change,” which positions nonprofits to pursue strategic evolution and become more resilient.


Nonprofits are primarily likely to take action on cybersecurity, growth, and shifting to online models.

Selling power

Tips from qualitative interviews with nonprofit leaders on innovation, adaptability, and change:

  1. Be pragmatic. Engage with specialists or engage with trusted private sector advisers, particularly for advice on technology or legal matters; look to banking partners, board members and corporate partners for their expertise.
  2. Marketing Donor Benefits. Think in terms of “packaging” the benefits of becoming a supporter to make them easy to understand and implement.
  3. Listen to improve. Use surveys and other listening tools to get feedback from stakeholders, both internal and external.
  4. Aim to multiply impact. Consider simultaneously the new and evolving needs of the end user and the needs of the economy as a whole — for example, upskilling users in areas where the economy is lacking.
  5. Think collaboratively. Build on your organization’s skills and find peers to fill in the gaps. Explore partnerships with other nonprofits and businesses.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of nonprofits say digital transformation is essential, and organizations that describe themselves as ‘technology adopters’, ‘future-facing’ or ’empowered’ are more likely than their peers to say that digital transformation is essential. -have.


Nonprofits that rely heavily on technology are more likely to view digital transformation as important.

Selling power

An important takeaway from the report is how nonprofits link data to impact. Most nonprofits systematically use data to design programs and services (75%), personalize communications with stakeholders (74%) and make decisions (73%). Lower-ranked uses of information include problem solving (69%) and revenue forecasting (58%).

More than half (55%) of nonprofits say their organization needs to invest in technology to increase fundraising, and 60% say their donors expect a better experience than that offered by their current technology.


Technology is helping nonprofits be more effective and improving their impact.

Selling power

Technology vendors need to do a better job supporting nonprofits. Only 36% of nonprofit professionals are “very satisfied” with the technology they have to do their work. The lowest satisfaction concerns the integration of data sources and systems (34% very satisfied) and the availability of easy-to-use reporting tools (33% very satisfied).


Digital maturity strengthens relationships with all stakeholders.

Selling power

Technology vendors also need to do a better job of educating nonprofits about the importance of digital maturity. Digitally mature nonprofits outperform their peers, regardless of their organization’s revenue, workforce, or geographic location. Organizations with high digital maturity are 1.9 times more likely (93% vs. 50%) to have experienced improvements in organizational effectiveness or mission impact. They are also 3.5 times more likely (38% vs. 11%) to have achieved mission objectives compared to their low digital maturity peers.

Digital transformation is the path to maturity. The report notes that cybersecurity and privacy (34%), profitability (33%), and data management and optimization (32%) are the top reasons for digital transformation. Impacts such as improved stakeholder relations (23%), competitive advantage (19%) and meeting stakeholder expectations (18%) are the lowest.

Digital transformation is hard work and requires organizational commitment, the right culture, the right people, and the right processes. Without commitment to resources and clarity of vision and execution, transformation can be difficult and slow. The most frequently cited barriers to digital transformation are lack of budget or resources (37%) and higher priorities within the organization (30%). Other challenges include a lack of skilled talent to implement and manage technologies (28%) and a lack of understanding of these technologies (26%).

To learn more about Salesforce’s Nonprofit Trends Report, you can visit here.

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