How Tech and Software Innovations Have Improved the Effectiveness of Charities and Philanthropic Foundations
The evolution of technology over the past 30 years has made our lives more
effective and efficient. We are able to achieve much more in the same 24 hours.
Technology has also changed the way companies, both big and small, non-profit
and for-profit, conduct their business.
Let's focus on how technology has influenced the functioning of charities and philanthropic organizations:
Spreading the word
In this day and age of social media, it's often tempting to use the latest
technology tool to spread the word. However, charities are discovering that the
message and audience come before the choice of platforms. For instance, if the
charity is targeting a young audience it is better to develop the campaign on
social media tools like Snapchat and Tumblr, rather than Facebook.
Move from broadcast to dialogue
Using social media to broadcast the message is the easy way out, but it pays
limited dividends. Instead, charities are learning to use social media to
identify and engage with their audiences for greater effectiveness. In 2014,
Save the Children UK used an interactive campaign across platforms, to raise
awareness about the Ebola crisis. People asked a range of questions about the
crisis, and customised ways in which they could help out. The success of
campaigns like #findmike and #nomakeupselfie for cancer research, highlight the
effectiveness of this approach.
Over 70% of internet browsing is from mobile and hand devices. In this
environment, it becomes paramount for the charity to develop apps that can be
used by their audience to keep abreast of the charity’s work, make donations and
payments, and to see how their donations are making a difference on the ground.
The iHobo app used by Depaul UK, a charity for the homeless, is one such
example. However, this is an area where UK charities still lag behind their
counterparts in countries such as the US and Australia.
Fundraising is the lifeline for all charities, even those that have a principal
benefactor. Donating to charities has moved from donation boxes and the cashier
asking you if you would like to contribute, to mobile apps on your phone.
Charities are tying up with mobile-based applications like Budge, iCukoo and One
Today, to cast the fundraising net far and wide.
Of course, individual contributions constitute a large part of funding and
donations. One such individual is Lord Irvine Laidlaw. A well-respected former
member of the House of Lords,
Lord Laidlaw is well known for his generous contributions to causes ranging from education to
welfare. His £9 million donation towards building a library at the University of
Leeds, and his $2 million scholarship fund at Columbia University are just two
notable examples of his philanthropy.
Innovation and data analytics
Charities are increasingly using internal benchmarks and donor feedback to
evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns. Combing these benchmarks with
data analytic tools like Smart Vision allows for powerful predictive analysis of
Charities are uniquely placed to leverage the benefits of both technology and
social media for effective and efficient operations, and they are learning to
adapt to the evolving technological landscape.
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