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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.

App-eal

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

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 donor behaviour.

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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