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Twilio: Nonprofits Outperform Private Sector in Digital Engagement

But Further Digital Acceleration is Difficult Without Nonprofit Access to Technical Talent

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New and recent research on nonprofit organizations from Twilio, the San Francisco-based provider of a customer engagement and cloud communications platform, shows that nonprofits outpace the private sector in digital engagement, but achieving or accelerating digital transformation is hampered by a lack of access to developer talent.

Nonprofits play an important role in community building by providing critical services that contribute to socio-economic stability and mobility. Erin Reilly, chief social impact officer at Twilio, says nonprofits are among the most technically innovative organizations, but digital engagement by nonprofits is vital for the organizations to reach people in crises and help them access the resources they need to thrive.

Moreover, the stakes for investing in new nonprofit initiatives like digitalization are high, since nonprofits operate for a public or social benefit without an eye toward turning a profit. Yet digital communications and technologies are critical for 89% of nonprofits in achieving their organization’s mission, the Twilio research reveals.

Even so, nonprofits show strong results in digital engagement, outperforming their private-sector counterparts. Nonprofit engagement with program beneficiaries is 65% digital, compared to 55% among business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. On average, nonprofit organizations experience 3.6 key benefits to their core programs when they digitize program participant engagement—a strong motivating factor for nonprofits to embark on the digital transformation of their operations.

Barriers and Opportunities

Nonprofit organizations could be accelerating their adoption of digital technologies to make their operations more efficient, but accessing technical talent remains one of their biggest barriers to digital adoption. Nonprofits need more technical capacity to build high-impact digital programs, but just one in four at the beginning stages of digital maturity has the developer talent that is needed. There is hope for improvement this year, however, as 65% of nonprofits plan to hire developers, with that percentage rising to 89% among those further along in their digital adoption initiatives.

The biggest opportunity for nonprofits to better meet the needs of their participants is personalization, according to the research. Those who interact with nonprofits rank personalization as the top priority area that organizations should focus on to improve program experience. Nonprofits agree, with 77% stating that personalization is a high or critical priority for 2022. 

The research on nonprofits reflects the findings from two of Twilio’s new and recently released reports. The first, State of Nonprofit Digital Engagement Report, surveyed 800 employees of nonprofit organizations and 1,500 nonprofit program participants in the UK and the US who accessed benefits or services from nonprofits. The second, State of Customer Engagement Report 2022, saw Twilio speak to more than 3,400 decision makers and 4,500 consumers to understand how the global digital landscape continues to expand. The reports also included aggregated, anonymized data from trillions of interactions on Twilio’s own platform, revealing the way nonprofits and social impact organizations are using digital channels to connect with millions of people around the world.

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