While few can deny that digital technology is the future, most charity fundraisers have only just started to use it. Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, while only 7.2% individual donations in the UK were made online, the portion of those made on a mobile device almost doubled from 2014. While it’s still at just 17%, this shows a growing importance. Millennials have been brought up on technology, and for a charity to connect with them, they will need to adopt that same digital technology. This is particularly true in the aftermath of the controversy over fundraising websites taking fees from public donations to fund their running costs.
Due to a combination of a lack of resources, little tech expertise, and/or a general hostility to change, charities both large and small have been having a hard time adapting to digital technology beyond creating websites and being active on social media. Most still generate most of their money through more traditional fundraising activities, such as mass sponsorship events. However, change is in the air. Services such as GoFundMe and Cradle are helping connect donors and charities online, and various more established charities have taken the digital plunge. Take a look at the UN’s World Food Program, who two years ago released an easy-to-use mobile app called “Share the Meal”. Donors are able to make a $.50 micropayment to feed a child for a day with a simple tap of their phone. Oxfam is another charity that’s been going digital; they now use data rather than paper-based forms to record the details of new supporters, and have even created a “My Oxfam” app that lets them track what they give and how their donations are being spent.
When donating to a charity, most people don’t just want a quick transaction, rather a more personal connection to see how they’ve contributed and the impact of their donations. Social media, as an entity that allows you to easily and seamlessly stay in touch with people, is an excellent way to facilitate that personal connection. While this isn’t as popular in the charity sector, a lot of different organizations have “community managers”, who are responsible for maintaining a community around their specific brand. Such a position in a charity, who maintains a digital community across social media, could be a huge step in helping charities adapt to the digital age.