More organizations are investing in digital tools to increase impact and engagement. While donation management and business management platforms are being used behind the scenes in many organizations, institutions like museums are integrating technology into exhibitions to keep up with changing times.

Museums use digital tools to strengthen relationships

Recognizing the importance of using digital tools to increase audience engagement, Bloomberg Philanthropies is planning to invest $17 million to build the digital capacities of international museums, Nonprofit Quarterly reported. The organization is expanding grant funding specifically for digital projects in these cultural institutions through a program called Bloomberg Connects, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since 1999, Bloomberg Philanthropies has delivered $83 million to arts institutions across the world. Last year, the organization delivered $15 million to institutions utilizing mobile devices.

“Each of the institutions we’re supporting is using technology in different ways to engage, educate, and immerse their visitors – and to make their world-class resources available to a greater number of people, more of the time,” said Michael Bloomberg, the philanthropist, and former New York mayor.

The Brooklyn Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum are among the most recent recipients of funding.

Set to launch in the spring, the Brooklyn Museum will create a hub where staff will answer questions with the use of an app. This station will be modeled after Apple’s Genius bar, according to The Journal. After visitors download the app, they will be able to quickly send their questions to staffers stationed at the hub as they move through the exhibits. Using the app, the staff will be able to locate the person asking the question and see what artworks are nearby. For visitors that don’t have their own mobile devices, the museum hopes to install iPads throughout the building. In addition to providing real-time responses to visitor queries, the museum intends to utilize commonly asked questions to make the exhibits better.

The Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is utilizing the funding for its own innovative digital project. Upon entry, each visitor will be given a digital pen that will turn patrons into creators and curators themselves. Using the pen, visitors can tap on wall labels for pieces they like and save the information into a personal account. Digital tables throughout the building will allow visitors to access these saved objects for further exploration and experimentation by creating their own designs. The tables also provide access to objects that aren’t currently on display.

Similarly, the American Museum of Natural History’s app will provide behind-the-scenes insight for visitors.

The goal of all of these tools is to provide a deeper connection between visitors and the museum and create a relationship that lasts beyond the duration of the visit.

Digital is the wave of the future

Museums have a chance to use innovative tools to connect with patrons. While these opportunities may be more visible than those provided by other types of nonprofits, they demonstrate the continuing need for innovation and growth when it comes to technology. Greater engagement at the museum leads to a more effective relationship in the long term, which can mean increased donations and membership for these institutions.

Not all organizations can afford to invest in their own apps, but the technology behind the scenes can also facilitate interactions with donors and other constituents. Cloud-based donation management software can help nonprofits more effectively manage relationships with the contributors that are so important to keeping operations in motion.

Implementing cloud-based tools that help internal staff communicate better can facilitate interactions with donors by ensuring their information is up-to-date and that they can be reached quickly on the channels that are most effective for them.