The Future of Technology in Philanthropy

Technology has changed so much over the years, and rapidly. It’s shaped the world into what we understand it to be today, therefore it makes sense that it can and will shape the future of philanthropy. In this article, we dive into the different ways technology help change philanthropy and how it’s already developed over the years.

Payment Methods

Starting off with the slightly more obvious, the types of payment. It’s incredible how many different ways there now are to donate to a charity or fund. The ‘good old fashion way’, of going to a charity shop or sending cash or cheques in a letter. We’ve now got options like credit cards, PayPal, online forms, facebook donations, apple pay, and even contactless giving points around cities.

These contactless giving points are a great idea, allowing the public to quickly and easily donate £2 or £5 to people living on the streets. In the future, each charity could have one outside their stores to attract more donations.

When people get the urge to give to charity, there is no longer anything stopping them! There have even been examples of some charities increasing their overall giving by donors increase by 600% due to digital fundraising methods. The convenience of donating to a cause is so simple. This being said, cash is still the preferred way to give to charity with 55% (in 2016) of people in the UK using this method of payment.

Even if cash is still the main form of giving, cryptocurrency could become a competitor in the future. Even the pure fact that bitcoin has created a huge amount of surprise millionaires, who are much more likely to take part in philanthropy. Bitcoin offers a range of opportunities for the user, one of the biggest opportunities is that it is completely transparent therefore you can trace the donation and how it is used by the charities. Bitcoin is also anonymous, which can be both a pro for the givers and a con for the charities. As the charity may be accepting donations from unauthorised personnel.

Online Technology for Charities

One of the biggest ways technology has helped charities at the moment is the through their ability to advertise at such a cheap price on social media. This has opened up audiences to charities that before they would have no way of reaching. Facebook ads have incredible targeting capabilities meaning that charities can create content to entice new donors. Even being active on social media has opened up opportunities to foundations as well as philanthropist, as they can now research and choose where they want to donate to.

There is now so much that a charity can do to push their online presence, for example, creating an immersive website. Leading the online visitor through their story, their mission, drawing them to the giving page. Sending out surveys to potential and current donors for market research. Finding out what it is that drew them to donate, what they like to see and what they don’t, to maximise the effects of their content and adverts.

Saving time with Software

For foundations, sieving through applications is a hugely time-consuming task. With the advantages of SaaS products, such as Optimy, foundations can input their criteria and the software will automatically rank applications. Putting the ones that fit with that foundation’s values at the top, and sending automatic replies to the ones that do not match. This can save foundations up to 50% of time on recurring tasks, which can then be used for more productive, philanthropy tasks. The software can help save time throughout the entire journey of a grant, from the workflows, budget tracking, and communications all in one central dashboard.

Story Telling with Virtual Reality

Virtual and augmented reality opens up a whole new world of opportunities for storytelling and connecting with your audience. Charities can use this method to create captivating content to get across their message. The fact that virtual reality seems real, it can connect with the viewer on a different level. There are already some charities using this technique;

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK designed a ‘walk through demenia’ to help people understand the complexities of the illness and its effects.
  • The National Autistic Society did something similar called ‘Too Much Information’, a simulation of a autistic child’s experience whilst shopping.
  • Dog’s Trust – Sponsor a Dog created a 360 degree ‘day in the life’ experience for the sponsors to see the dogs day in their care.
  • The Resuscitation Council in the UK has used VR for educational purposes. They made a VR experience that follows the steps to take when someone has a cardiac arrest.

These are just a few examples of the few charities that are currently using virtual reality, for raising awareness, fundraising, education and some are even using it to thank their supporters.

AI Philanthropist

This new concept is extremely exciting and a little overwhelming. With the effects that cryptocurrency and blockchain are having on the ‘internet of things’, the idea of artificial intelligent philanthropists is now more than just a possibility. Smart technology is now within everything, from TVs and phones to toothbrushes and washing machines! These smart technologies will be internet enabled and have artificial intelligence built in, linking all these items together through blockchain technology. If this were to become a reality these AI-Smart objects would be able to generate their own revenue by managing their own capacity and selling it on.

This could give them the power to become philanthropists and give away their money.

At the start of this potential new wave, where these smart objects give to would still be decided upon by the owners ) humans. However, over time, they would become better than us at deciding where the money should be going. As cryptocurrency is completely traceable, charities spend of donations would be completely visible to everyone. Meaning that these smart objects could track and take data to find out which areas are in dire need and where their money would be utilised.

To find out more about the effect of blockchain and AI philanthropy, see CAF Giving Unchained report.

Technology has already changed and ( if we’re being honest) improved philanthropy. Making it more transparent and fitting with this generations desire to track the impact of their donations. With the enhancements of AI, VR, cryptocurrency, and blockchain the future will be different. Hopefully for the greater good.