I recently searched on the term "Future of Online Fundraising" to see what the experts were predicting for the nonprofit sector.
I found some interesting things but nothing about any disruptive technologies.
Allison Fine thinks that the future lies in harnessing the good will of generous, but easily distracted younger donors. http://afine2.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/future-of-fundraising-is-hiding-in-blackbaud-results/
An article from 2001(why is this second in the search results?) explains why Sept, 11 2000 was a watershed moment for online fundraising.
Kelly O'Neal shares some data about giving in '08 and urges orgs to stay positive and have BIG, colorful donate buttons. http://www.frogloop.com/donations. Frogloop is a good blog for usable advice.
Other respected bloggers talked about the use of tags, feeds, and the typical Web 2.0 gadgets.
To me this is all old news. There is nothing disruptive here.
Online fundraising is still gaining acceptance in the nonprofit sector. I've thrown my hands to the heavens and can't explain the turtle-like adoption rates. It's mind boggling. After all, we are talking about 10-year old technologies.
BUT, what's next? What's beyond the "donate now" button and the hulking donor mangement systems that weigh organizations down?
Where are the next revenue streams and how will technology light the way?
If you ask Eric Schmidt and the folks at Google, they will tell you that the next version of online apps will be lightweight, platform independent, very fast, very customizable, distributed virally, and the data and machinery will be held and secured in the cloud.
For nonprofits, I would add that solicitations ("the ask") for online donations will also become predominately viral.
So what does this mean for the future of online fundraising? If Schmidt is right, and I think he is, nonprofits can expect a day where they can quickly and easily acquire any type of online fundraising tool that they desire. Whether it is for an event or any other viral fundraising program.
Nonprofits will not have to compromise on features and design because the app will be thorughly customizable.
Getting started with an online fundraising app should be instantaneous. Since the data and infrasctructure will be in the cloud, orgs will not have to worry about buying expensive servers or hiring IT people. All of the machinery of today's bulky apps (I'm talking to you Blackbaud) will be tucked away behind the scenes. No more 600 degree server closets.
To me, the most intriguing part of the future of online fundraising is platform independence. Orgs will no longer be shackled by the web browser. Your online fundraising application should work just as well on an iPhone, or any phone, on a Television, on a Wii, or any other connected device.
This future is not that far away either. There are already some iPhone Apps for fundraising. I know that platform independence is on Blue Sky Collaborative's radar.
For nonprofit managers everywhere - EVERYTHING YOU KNOW WILL CHANGE. The orgs that figure out the new approaches will be the most successful. Let's start thinking beyond Firefox, IE, and Safari to find the next big thing in online fundraising.