Clicking Our Way to Online Giving: Thanks To New Technology and Social Media, Anyone Can Become a Philanthropist

By: Mark Dority, Director of Marketing

Today’s consumers are the most cause-conscious, ever, and stats show that they are determined to give back to the causes they care about.  Americans are estimated to give approximately 4.7% of their income to nonprofits, while in 2011, Canadians reported $8.5 billion in donations on their tax returns.

With consumers spending more and more time on their computers and mobile devices (some 90% of young adults admit to sleeping with their mobile devices nearby), it’s become easier than ever to just “click our way to giving” – as opposed to physically volunteering.

When an earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, the total of funds raised through text messaging was estimated to be $1 million. A few months later, it had zoomed up to $50 million, jump-starting the age of mobile giving.

Almost three years later, Hurricane Sandy relief organizers predicted that 20% of total donations would come through mobile.  A form of donating which is likely to become more even more prevalent in the coming years.

The Accessibility of Technology and Reach of Social Media Help Online Philanthropy Grow

During the era of Internet connectivity – first on desktop and now on mobile – there’s been a slow but steady increase in online giving.  In fact, the number of American nonprofits raising funds online grew 20% last year, to 106,000, in the US alone.

Generation Y has been particularly involved in this growth; according to last summer’s Millennial Impact Report, 75% gave to charity in 2011 – and they mostly did so online. Online giving also increased among donors over 60 that same year. Clearly, today’s technology is influencing a broad range of consumers – boosting donations across generations.

Access to online and mobile are also making it easier than ever for everyday consumers – regardless of their age or income – to donate to the causes they care about, anytime and anywhere. For nonprofits looking to connect with consumers, this increasingly means having a presence on social media.

And this trend isn’t limited to the States:  Canada  has also seen an uptick in online and, particularly social giving. For example, after the Royal Canadian Mint announced it will soon stop making new pennies, several groups launched social media campaigns to collect the remaining pennies in circulation – about six billion – for donation to charity.

Social networking platforms in particular also make it easy for nonprofits to tell their stories to the world through written and visual media, as well as benefit from Facebook or Twitter followers’ potential shares and retweets.

Coming To A Connected Device Near You: An Efficient and Simple New Way to Connect with Millions of Causes Worldwide

In the US alone, 87% of adults currently own mobile phones and 45% own smartphones, while 26% and 31% own e-readers and tablets, respectively. Last year, Americans spent an average of 26 hours a week online.

Thanks to technology, relief efforts have benefited from this as well – contributing to a cause has become as easy as picking up a mobile phone, tapping a nearby tablet or entering a few keystrokes online.

And as these ever-connected devices command more of consumers’ attention,  they’ll be doing even more of their charitable giving online. In the spirit of encouraging this trend, KULA will soon launch a new platform that will give cause-conscious consumers instant access to contribute to over 2.5 million nonprofits – including organizations that highlight and support healthcare, social justice, human rights, animal rights and even faith-based organizations – in over 80 countries across the globe. KULA will also provide the easiest way to contribute to a cause in consumers’ very own backyard – their local food bank, a child’s classroom, or even a nearby animal shelter.

So, whether the causes that matter most are around the corner, or on the other side of the globe, KULA is looking forward to helping make philanthropy a simple part of everyday life.