Business Technology, Non-Profit Business

3 Ways Non-Profits Use Emerging Technology to Further Donor Dollars — And How You Can, Too

A U.S.-based non-profit organization wants to send clean-burning stoves to rural Guatemalan heads-of-households. The idea is for recipients to use the stoves to start small businesses in support of their families. But what if one of those stoves breaks down?

Ixo helps non-profits collect, measure, evaluate, value, and tokenize verifiable impact. Their application of the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, smart contracts, and blockchain help non-profits serve those in need in real-time, no matter their location. Via IoT sensors, for example, sending brands can monitor product performance from thousands of miles away, troubleshoot problems even before they arise, and then offer instructions to fix them.

Further, ixo pairs blockchain and smart contracts with IoT sensors to gather data regarding carbon emissions, then issue carbon tokens in real-time — something that, pre-emerging technologies, may have taken a year to process. And, for transparency, blockchain authenticates the IoT sensors so no tampering of data goes unnoticed.

“As a result of these technologies, there’s greater trust between parties, while reducing evaluation costs,” says Fennie Wang, partnership and regulatory lead of the ixo foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses technology to create social impact.

Brands Further Donor Dollars By Matching One Technology to One Use Case at a Time

Though ixo matches myriad emerging technologies to non-profit problems, this approach can be overwhelming for many organizations. So, others are taking a one-case-to-one-technology approach to serve more with less. Learn 3 emerging-technology use cases for non-profits to serve more people with fewer donations:

1. Machine Learning (ML) allows brands to safely cut IT infrastructure costs.

Twenty-two people die daily waiting for an organ. One decision to be an organ, tissue, and eye donor potentially saves 8 lives and enhances 75.

As a result, Donate Life Month leads to thousands saved as people use social media and other platforms to raise awareness and offer information about organ-donor registration. In turn, supporting organizations rally around those promoting it and news organizations tell stories of those impacted.

It’s a month of charity, empathy, and lives saved. But, just one technical glitch could down websites where registration and donation opportunities are available. This would mean lives lost and less impactful donations as cause-related organizations struggle to make up for lost user-generated promotional opportunities.

“Because the non-profit sector is so dependent on seasonality, it affects them even more than most industries,” says Dylan Max, growth marketing lead at FogLogic. “To protect themselves from fluctuating demands, many larger non-profit organizations over-provision their IT infrastructure. This keeps them safe but is highly inefficient and costly.”

He says that ML is the answer. While monitoring system interactions and changes, it pinpoints potential issues, then raises red flags to prevent them. In the end, organizations cut costs on over-the-top infrastructure and can rest assured that prevention and correction measures will happen in time.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) immerses investors in non-profit projects without travel costs.

Gender, location, conflict, familial socioeconomics, disability, and local and national conflict mean 61 million primary school children across the globe have no education access. Pencils of Promise (PoP) is a non-profit that raises money to build public schools in rural Guatemala, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Laos.

And while many non-profit organizations rely on long-distance trips to show investors where donations go, Pencils of Promise turned to VR. Using VR, investors experience projects from across the globe. And, in doing so, money that would pay travel costs goes directly toward serving people.

“There is no other medium that allows an immersive, personal experience quite like VR,” says Michael Dougherty, CEO of Pencils of Promise. “Our [VR] film takes supporters inside a rural community in Ghana to experience the transformational impact of education.”

Though VR technologies are expensive, by carefully matching them to a use case, organizations stand to gain greater support for causes and, thereby, offset the cost of producing and offering immersive experiences. Via a 90-second VR film, Pencils of Promise raised a total $1.9 million for school construction.

3. Blockchain boosts donations via increased trust, while eliminating middlemen costs.

When Opal, a Vervet Monkey, was found by the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) clinical team in Durban, South Africa, she was just 6 days old. The team found her still clinging to her mother, who had been killed by a car. Today, the CROW clinical team searches for a sponsor to cover Opal’s food, lodging, medical and rehabilitation costs.

And Opal’s future sponsors can rest assured that CROW focuses on efficient donation usage. A year ago, CROW became a client of Sun Exchange, a blockchain company that helps cut CROW’s electricity costs by 10–40 percent. When asked how blockchain cut CROW’s electricity costs, Abe Cambridge, founder and CEO of Sun Exchange explained:

“NGO’s in underdeveloped markets are using expensive and dirty fossil fuels for electricity, and in those instances, solar energy is drastically cheaper to use but also much more expensive to implement. So we can come in and implement a fully-funded, fully-operational solar energy system that meets all the NGO requirements and they won’t have to pay a penny upfront whatsoever.”

Using blockchain, anyone from around the globe can join the Sun Exchange platform, and collectively purchase a target number of solar panels to be leased onto the NGO via Sun Exchange, who has them installed on the NGOs rooftop. From there, the NGO pays a rental lease to solar panel owners, which is collected and sent back to the solar panel owners quickly and securely using cryptocurrency blockchain payments.

“Sending payments using new blockchain based digital currencies such as Bitcoin directly to projects is a far more efficient and elegant way of doing it because the sender of the money knows where that money is going specifically, and it takes minutes, not days,” says Abraham.

With no middlemen, NGOs don’t pay extra international-transactions costs and, using a blockchain-based cryptocurrency, money doesn’t go to currency-exchange fees. Furthermore, investors are given confidence to get involved in projects across borders because they can view where their money is going on CROW’s solar-power online blockchain ledger.

When it comes to complex emerging technologies, don’t overthink it.

The vast capabilities of today’s VR, ML, blockchain, smart contract, and IoT technologies may have some organizations overwhelmed. But, by matching technologies to just one of their costliest use cases, non-profit organizations can cut costs, allowing donor dollars to serve more.

Non-profits affected by seasonality protect their most lucrative donation times via ML. Some cut travel costs via VR experiences. And, still others cut electricity costs via blockchain.

Sun Exchange makes it even simpler. Instead of implementing in-house technologies, they offer non-profits technologies-as-a-service. Doing so allows organizations to cut costs in their path to greater efficiency.

To serve more with less, the starting path is clear: match one use case to one technology. Partner with tech firms to cut implementation costs. And, if you don’t know where to start in identifying your organization’s use case, look to tech-firm expertise to pinpoint the use case with the greatest potential for cutting overhead costs. Your donors and those you serve will thank you!

Alana Rudder

Alana Rudder — Founding Member of Experience Perspective, LLC —offers content strategy, marketing project management, and content writing services to Fortune 500 brands, including Adobe, as well as countless mid-size and startup brands. She writes about business technology, martech, marketing, leadership, organizational development, and the causes that are so dear to her: organ donation, living donation, and organizations that lend to the welfare of children in crisis around the globe. When she isn't working, she loves to spend time with her rescue pets and participating in living history events with her dear husband.

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  1. Whats up this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Alana Rudder says:

      There are plenty of WordPress themes that make it so you don’t have to know any coding to design your website. You can simply get hosting with GoDaddy or Bluehost. You’ll have to buy a domain name through them as well. For example, my domain name is From there, you can choose WordPress themes by going to the “Appearance” section of your WordPress dashboard (after you sign into a WordPress account) to choose a theme. If you sign up with GoDaddy, they walk you through it. Then, you just upload photos, add pages, and add content. I hope this helps!

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