The digital platforms to look out for in 2021
Updated: Feb 28
Written for Charity Digital. Live link here.
We look at the digital platforms that charities should be using this year and explore some of the new features they are offering
Choosing the right digital platforms is going to be essential in 2021 – especially for charities with ever-tightening budgets. Whatever the future brings, social distancing restrictions and remote working are sure to play a key part – at least for a good chunk of 2021. Luckily, there are lots of digital platforms for team collaboration, fundraising, and content creation. Here are some of the best digital platforms to look out for in 2021.
Video conferencing took off in 2020 like no one could have ever imagined – with Zoom and Teams the pick of the crop. Microsoft Teams is constantly adding new features to help meetings work more efficiently and that doesn’t look like it’s going to stop in 2021. A new feature, Dynamic View, allows speaker and presentation video to be viewed side-by-side at the same time, which will give presentations a more personal feel. The feature is likely to arrive in March 2021. Teams also recently launched virtual breakout rooms for smaller group discussions to help video conferencing feel more like the real deal.
With remote working becoming the norm, digital platforms that enable safe online collaboration are going to be even more important in 2021. Trello offers streamlined project management for all your projects. It has free and paid-for options and can integrate with lots of other apps including Google Drive, Salesforce, and Slack. Developments for 2021 include new ways of viewing information, making it even easier for teams to stay on track. Another option for project management is the increasingly popular Monday.com, while Miro and Mural enable collaborative working on virtual whiteboards.
There’s been a growth in low-code software platforms, like Mendix, which enables users to create apps and interfaces quickly and cheaply. Easy-to-use for anyone and everyone, Mendix is fully templated and only needs elements to be dragged and dropped to create new apps (think of it like Wordpress) and you can get going with it for free. This is a great way for fundraisers to create branded events apps.
With social distancing restrictions here to stay for the foreseeable future, Mapme is a digital platform that allows you to create interactive maps, enhanced with photos, videos, and PDFs. (UCL recently used it to give potential students a virtual open day tour of the campus). You don’t need any coding skills, it has a three-level pricing scale, and there are plenty of discounts for non-profits.
Donation giving needs to be streamlined and simple. One way of doing this is by using QR codes. Scan and donate campaigns are on the up, being a quick and easy option for socially-distanced supporters. In 2020, JustGiving launched QR codes for charities and fundraising teams – free for charities registered with them – making it super easy for supporters to get straight to donation pages.
TikTok came into its own in 2020 – with its 800 million active users turning to it to while in lockdowns. Charities are using it more and more to garner support among Gen Z, who make up 60% of users. There are some great charity success stories and the digital platform has recently enabled users to add approved non-profit fundraisers to their profile. This gives a running total of how much they’ve raised and a button for others to donate. Getting users to support you via TikTok could be top of your 2021 to-do list.
In the present times, with face-to-face relationships harder to build, websites need to do some of the heavy lifting. WordPress has a great range of great plugins to assist in getting donations. With plugins such as GiveWP you can create a custom donation form (for one-off or recurring donations) inside WordPress. WPForms is a simple drag and drop form builder, which integrates with PayPal and Stripe so you can safely collect donations – and there are discounts for non-profits.
For attention-grabbing content, video is the way to go. For those who want to create video content on the move there are apps such as Kinemaster that let you edit on your phone (either iPhone or Android). You can try it out for free (with a watermark) or sign up for a monthly subscription for their Kinemaster Premium option, which removes the watermark, among other extras. There is also a range of free video services such as iMovie, YouTube Video Editor, and Windows Movie Maker.
With budgets tightening, graphic designing in-house using a platform such as Canva could save charities some money. The entry-level option is free and allows you to create digital and print graphics. Crucially, it’s simple to use and allows you to collaborate and comment in real-time. And charities can gain free access for ten team members by applying for their Canva for Work programme.