Change Donation’s mission is to help people change the world through everyday spending. A community of everyday philanthropists donating one cent at a time to incredible causes that are inspiring positive change across the globe. Change Donations allows donors to give to their chosen charities by rounding up their card purchases to the nearest euro. Below, Change Donations gives PI great insight into “The Role of Tech in Giving”.
The technological renaissance that has occurred over the past 30 years has infiltrated and benefited all aspects of our lives. Innovation, automation, and digitization have revolutionized the way operate on a daily basis. However, the charitable sector has been left relatively unchanged. Sure, charities have added online direct debits or text-to-donate, but the fact that tap-to-donate collection buckets are considered bleeding edge technology is an indication of just how limited charities are on a technological level. I’m not calling for block-chain, machine learning, AI, or space travel, but when you compare the way we live to the way we donate, it feels like two completely different eras.
We live in an age of instant access to information, inter-connectivity, and overstimulation. Social media allows everyone to engage and interact with thousands of people every day. Checking your social pulse and digital identity have become as routine as brushing your teeth. We eat, sleep, and breathe technology, and have learned to digest information at an unprecedented rate. Whether we like it or not, we all have a digital profile. We all have a digital footprint. And we all have a public brand. Some say that this has led to vanity and disillusionment, and there is truth in that, but an optimist will see that this has helped make brands and companies more human to the eyes of consumers. People now talk to brands, and for the first time, brands are talking back.
People care. People want to help. So why are we seeing a reduction in donations (down 24% since 2010)? People have become accustom to convenience. If a process falls outside of the way an individual operates, he or she will remove it from their daily routine. So how does this apply to charities? Charities still rely heavily on cash donations (68% according to 2019 Global Giving Index). However, for most millennials and Gen-X’ers, cash is dead. This misalignment is a large reason why the average age of donors in Ireland is 62 years old.
The sad truth is that charities cannot afford an R&D department, and very few of them can afford to experiment with new technology. At the moment, charities operate 3–5 years behind curve when it comes to technology. Unfortunately for charities, not only has technology dictated our lifestyle, but the rate at which technology changes has increased significantly, exacerbating the gap between the way we live and the way charities interact with us. Think about it like this, most people under 25 have no idea what it’s like to go through life without an iPhone. If the iPhone is the new norm, charities and non-profits are still in the flip phone era. Flip phones work. You can still make calls and send texts, but it falls well beyond the convenience horizon that most donors are not willing to look past.
As of right now, charities have been using technology purely as a substitute for their processes: flyers and pamphlets have now become emails and social media posts, chuggers now collect credit card information in addition to cash, and the list goes on. Digital automation
is fantastic, but it is the starting point not the finish line. Charities need to use technology to integrate their mission and brand into the daily lives of their potential donors.
So what’s the point? We know it’s hard for charities to stay up to date with the latest and greatest technology, and we know that now, more than ever, brands and companies are personified in a very human way. If we focus on the things the charities can control, it makes it a little easier to identify the root of the issue and find the appropriate solution. We’ve established that “tech” is an all-encompassing word, and that not every piece of “tech” needs to be used by charities. And on a similar note, tech for the sake of tech, will not benefit charities. Charities need to align their mission and processes with the lifestyle of their donors. Millennials and Gen-Xers have become accustom to convenience and brevity. They are unconscious statisticians constantly cross-referencing and setting new anchor points. They are acutely aware of marketing campaigns and are fluent in all of the tricks that advertising agencies use. They are branded as narcissistic and hyper-sensitive but in reality are just overconfident and independent. They want the ability to choose, personalize, and customize. They want convenience but they don’t want to be annoyed.
Injecting your brand into someone’s daily routine is incredibly hard. Your donors and users have the potential to talk to you every day. Find tools that help you listen to them and act on their feedback. Use technology to help you boost engagement levels but remember that engagement is a two way street. Make their lives easier and they will reward you for it. Optimizing your strategy around implementing technology that not only automates processes but also aligns with the way that people operate on a daily basis has the potential to revolutionize the charitable sector. I’m not here to recommend technology, just aiming to discern which strategy could be most beneficial. You can simply replace an outdated process through automation, or you can enhance it. Charities are here to enrich the lives of others, and the right technology can maximize the impact that charities can have.