Giving to charity is nothing new, but it is a growing practice. The amount of money people donated to charitable causes has increased almost every year since 1977, reaching more than $410 billion in 2017. While this trend probably results from multiple factors, technology has played a big part.
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New technologies have made charitable giving easier than it ever has been. When it’s easier to give, more people will do it and do so generously. Here’s a closer look at how technology is making donations more accessible.
Social media is one of the most game-changing technologies for charitable giving. In the past, causes had to rely on word-of-mouth, posters, billboards, or TV and radio ads to reach people. These methods are either slow or expensive, but social media can spread messages globally in minutes for free.
Anyone can make a post about a charitable cause and share it within seconds. Since 84% of Facebook users share posts to support causes or highlight issues important to them, these posts tend to move around quickly. As a result, nonprofits reach more people in less time, making it easier to meet donation goals.
Since social media is free, it also removes traditional barriers to reaching a broad audience. The success of individual causes on crowdfunding platforms speaks for itself. People struggling even to pay their medical bills can afford to reach millions of people online.
Technology has also created new ways to give. Many of these either gamify giving or make it more convenient, encouraging people who may not otherwise donate to participate in a cause.
For example, some apps track your running miles and convert them into cash donations to a charity of your choice. That way, all you have to do to make a difference is go for a run with the app open. The developers can afford to give through the ad revenue they generate, and users don’t even need to spend their own money.
Many apps also provide convenient ways to donate. Some e-commerce platforms and payment processors let users round up their purchases to donate a few cents or dollars to charity. This creates a seamless giving experience where people don’t have to seek a charity to support it.
Another charitable giving trend that’s taken off thanks to technology is micro-giving. Some businesses can afford to donate 36,000 servings of food to those in need, but most people don’t have those kinds of funds. They don’t need to have them to make a difference, though.
Micro-giving involves donating just a few dollars or even cents. While it existed before today’s tech, things like social media and smartphone apps have made it far easier. Now that charities can reach a bigger audience, they can encourage smaller gifts and still meet donation goals. On the donators’ side, apps make it easier to give small amounts.
For example, the UN released an easy-to-use donation app in 2015. Users could give 50 cents by tapping once, leading people to donate 13 million meals by 2017. These small, convenient payments let anyone give, regardless of budget, leading to broader participation.
New technologies have also made charitable donations more secure. People aren’t likely to donate to a cause if they don’t believe their gift will actually reach the charity. Modern security tools calm those fears, encouraging giving and preventing theft.
Payment apps like PayPal are a prime example of this security. Many charities accept donations through these services, which encrypt transactions, monitor for fraud and hide sensitive information. Users know they can trust these apps, so their availability on a less familiar site can help settle any worries they might have over security.
Newer technologies like blockchain can take things a step further. Cryptocurrency donations jumped 583% between 2020 and 2021 for Crypto Giving Tuesday as the technology caught on. Blockchain transactions are unchangeable but transparent, offering a unique sense of security.
Similarly, technology today also improves transparency in the giving process. Blockchains provide a permanent and detailed record that virtually anyone can check. That way, you can see exactly where your donation went.
Even apart from blockchain technology, today’s digital world makes it easier than ever to verify where your money goes. Electronic payments leave a record that’s easy to look up, and social media makes it easy for auditors and investigators to publish what they find. All this holds charities to a higher standard.
Donators can ensure their money goes where organizations said it would due to this transparency. It’s easier to double-check if a charity is legitimate and easier for them to prove they send donations where they claim. This trust helps encourage people who would otherwise be suspicious to give.
Charitable giving allows everyone to make a difference, and new technology opens those doors to a broader audience. More people give when it’s easier and safer, helping more of those in need. Today’s technology didn’t invent charitable giving, but it has pushed it further. The world could become far more generous in the future as more of these technologies emerge.
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Last Updated on February 25, 2022.