Just as it has done for the world of business, technology has begun to change how individuals and companies approach philanthropy. The internet, mobile apps, and crowdfunding have given philanthropists even more resources in donating their time and efforts toward causes they feel passionate about, in addition to greatly expanding their audiences. For those new to the world of philanthropy, the same platforms have allowed for even more education in the subject, and about specific organizations.
In 1984, only 8.2% of Americans owned a computer. That number has changed drastically since, as more than 3/4ths of the country is now comprised of computer owners, and 9 out of every 10 American adults own a cell phone. The days of of physically mailing in checks to a charity of your choice, only after receiving requests in the mail are no more. Donating today is as easy as clicking around on the internet or sending text messages to a charity’s hotline.
With the rise of the internet and mobile technology, it’s easy to forget about television’s role in spreading information. News, commercials, shows, and even movies are all key factors in Americans learning about new information while simply relaxing on the couch. Charitable organizations utilize commercials extremely well.
Take these 5 charity advertisements shown at the 58th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2011 for example. They deal with issues ranging from domestic violence to refugee literacy, and music education to child soldiers, effectively appealing to one’s emotions. By displaying true human nature in these commercials, viewers are shown just how important these causes are, and allows them decide whether or not they are doing enough to make a difference. With 99% of American households possessing at least one television, the number of people these advertisements have the potential of reaching is astounding.
The practice of crowdfunding has benefitted greatly from the internet and social media as well. Charities or everyday individuals that fund their products or ventures by raising contributions from large numbers of people have the ability of reaching almost everyone in the world through the internet. Websites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo allow philanthropists, inventors, researchers, and more to raise money for a cause or product that they feel deserves more attention.
After Haiti was devastated by the 2010 earthquake, an estimated $43 million was donated via mobile technology, bringing forth the notion that this surge in technological advancements can greatly improve disaster relief. Aside from airing television commercials to raise awareness, organizations like American Red Cross can utilize social media trends to reach audiences that may otherwise spend most of their time on sites like Facebook or Twitter. Information online undergoes a snowball effect, as more and more people share this news, spreading it far and wide.
Another organization that has benefitted from mobile technology is Feeding America. This charity provides food for more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. By introducing mobile technology to their cause, Feeding America has been able to donate even more food, reduce operating expenses, and eliminate time consuming paperwork. Donations through this platform have reached over 5,000 non-profit organizations, and have allowed Feeding America to track performance, operations, and donor reporting through it all.
There is no denying that technology has had an immense impact on the world of philanthropy and fundraising, and with the promises that recent advancements have shown, it is likely that improvements will continue, and those seeking to make a difference will have all the tools necessary at their fingertips.