Technology and Philanthropy: Teaming Up to Do Greater Good

By: Sean Daken, Chief Executive Officer

The internet, social media and mobile devices have irreversibly impacted our day-to-day lives. Most would agree these types of technology have made everything from our daily communications to the way we consume news, shop, pay our bills, access music and be entertained a whole lot simpler and much more efficient.

Thanks to technology, we can deposit checks without having to go to the bank, we can keep in touch with our friends, relatives and colleagues from near and far – and even create business plans and presentations at 35,000 feet in the air.

The data-processing capabilities of both desktop and mobile devices are growing rapidly and devices are becoming more streamlined (remember the first bricklike mobile phones?). At the same time, the 24-hour news cycle accessible on those devices is helping consumers to become connected to the causes they care about and in doing so, more cause-conscious. And these two trends are increasingly dovetailing to create a “new normal” of quick, easy tech-enabled charitable giving.

One example is Network for Good, which has channeled over $800 million to more than 80,000 nonprofits across the world since its founding in 2001.

According to the organization’s Digital Giving Index 2012 Year in Review, while four percent of consumers gave online in 2002, that number boomed to 65% of consumers in 2012. Between 2011 and 2012, overall online giving grew by 18% while donations made through branded (as opposed to generic) Web sites and social media jumped 20% and 21%, respectively.

That’s a lot of growth!

New and innovative ways to harness the “always on” power of today’s technology continuously emerge and following are a few examples we think illustrate this progression particularly well:

Social Media Empowering At-Risk Youth

During the 2012 holidays, luxury carmaker Lexus launched its “Check In for Charity” drive, wherein any participants checking in through Facebook or Foursquare between December 1 and January 2 triggered a $10 donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an organization which provides enriching afterschool activities for at-risk youth. The initiative raised $200,000 for the nonprofit.

PayPal Philanthropic Efforts Going Mobile

Online payments giant PayPal’s “Give at Checkout” program enables online shoppers to donate money to various nonprofits when they complete a purchase. While PayPal has been doing this for years, the company recently optimized this feature for mobile, making it a snap for consumers to give whenever and wherever they are. It also conducted a survey of consumers who gave to Haiti earthquake relief efforts and found that 25% preferred to donate through text message and 24% preferred giving through Web sites.

The Winning Circle: Charitable Choices Driving New Levels of Brand Loyalty

The concept of doing well while doing good – through social enterprise – has been gaining traction in both the business and philanthropic worlds and the result of which is a company like ours. Through our Cause-Related Loyalty Marketing ™ (CLM) platform, companies with loyalty programs can make it easy for their members to convert any unused points, miles or other rewards into donations to the causes of their choice from among over 2.5 million nonprofits the world over. The customer goodwill companies earn boosts loyalty, which in turn boosts repeat purchases and rewards earned – which increases aid to causes large and small. Think of this as a winning circle.

As the rates of mobile adoption soar across the world, and with technology keeping us aware of the causes that need our support, the trend of digitally-enabled giving is only going to grow.

What are some of the best online giving initiatives you’ve seen and why? We would love to share your views in the comments section below.