Connection and Nonprofits: Fostering Human Relationships with Technology
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Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of technology is the evolution of communication and connection. The initial steps of Alexander Graham Bell allowed for voices to crackle across communities and then oceans. This gave way to home telephones and then bag phones toted around in vehicles. Now, most people carry around palm-sized cell phones that are smarter than the computers that allowed for that giant leap for mankind in 1969. 

The radio, the computer, the internet and eventually video communications: In the continual evolution of humanity, many are expressing concern about modern advancements - that there is sometimes a lack of humanity and connection - particularly in text messaging. 

Yet, there has to be some sort of silver lining with all these advancements. Where would humanity be if it had to endure a pandemic without the technology that allows for interaction? 2020 showed that technology can help people maintain connection, a sense of humanity and belonging despite face-to-face restrictions. Zoom meetings and virtual happy hours allowed for those who were socially distancing to feel a little less isolated.

"Though it may be true that technology can incite high-risk individuals to further isolate themselves, technology can also aid and facilitate communication. Humans have an innate desire to share their lives with others. Technology can bridge gaps and connect people all over the world," according to a blog from collaborative software company Nuiteq.  

Humans simply have to creatively use the tools that advanced technology is providing. 

Team members of nonprofit organizations - and likely every organization - gathered themselves in the midst of worldwide upheaval and began thinking outside the box. Virtual fundraising efforts gained real traction as in-person events suddenly pivoted to online. 

There was a push by some nonprofits to sell tickets to virtual events that included cheese boards and wine that could be picked-up - so that people could enjoy the "party" from the safety of their homes. Some turned to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMeCharity or Fundly. 

Yet, there were some organizations that were already creatively using crowdfunding. Kiva has long been using the internet to foster connections with potential donors to third-world entrepreneurs. A link is created between funding and the people who can use the microloans to change their lives. Suddenly refugees and struggling single parents in the far reaches of the world have faces - and their stories prompt charitable action. 

The belief that underserved populations in the world deserve visibility -  that they deserve to be seen and heard by the people who can help is not unique in the nonprofit world. Missionaries still use slideshows and stories to prompt church sponsorships, and people in the Western world are introduced to the face of abject poverty. 

Another great example is The National Autistic Society, which created a 360-degree video titled "Too Much Information," which allowed viewers to get a sense of how an autistic child experiences a sensory overload. The campaign was a big success, helping 56 million people gain a deeper understanding of autism.

In many ways, what technology is doing is providing a human face to major problems - showing the real repercussions of the decisions of nations and allowing for people to help in big and small ways. At the end of the day, every effort counts just as every life counts. Nonprofit organizations must continue to adapt to the benefits allowed by technology and globalization in their quest to help the struggling populations of the world.  

Other examples of charities that have made a difference by embracing technology include: the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Save the Children, American Red Cross, WE Charity, and Practical Action.

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