5 Ways Charities Are Embracing Tech

The charity landscape in the UK is changing. In the last few years there has been a noticeable shift in the use of new technology by charities. The move undoubtedly reflects a societal change but it also reveals the new ways that charities are engaging and interacting with their supporters.

Whilst traditional communication and fundraising methods still have their place, tech allows charities to keep supporters up to date and raise vital funds in a less intrusive way. Here’s how:

1. Social Media

Social Media has been universally embraced by charities. It provides a cost effective way to keep supporters up to date with the important work they are doing but also gives them a platform to raise awareness and funds. The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ for the MND Association and the ‘No Makeup Selfie’ campaign for Cancer Research UK raised millions for charity and highlighted a significant change in the way charities interact with their supporters. Whilst some may be averse to throwing ice cold water over themselves, the positive impact social media has had on the charity sector can’t be denied.

2. Contactless payments

Ten per cent of all payments are now contactless and this number is growing. As a self-confessed tech nerd this comes as no surprise; but it is interesting to see how charities are beginning to utilise the technology. Cancer Research UK have led in this area, initially trialling contactless giving in shop windows and now they have progressed to using it for street fundraising. I love this example because it showcases tech being utilised for all the right reasons — offering convenience, innovation and choice to donors.

3. Hackathons

Nothing to do with stealing bank details! This puts designers and developers who want to do something worthwhile in touch with charities that can benefit from their expertise. The RNIB hosted a hackathon last summer to explore how technology can improve dating and employment opportunities for young blind people. The product was an exciting new dating app which matches people by voice using 6 second sound clips. Another app, Travita, was developed at a hackathon and allows travellers to donate excess baggage space to charities that need equipment at their destination . These are great examples of the new ways charities are harnessing creativity to create amazing change.

4. Search Engines

Search engines are now so integral to the way we live that it seems impossible to imagine a world without them; but did you know that you can also use them to fundraise? Sites such as Everyclick and Ecosia began this trend by offering consumers an ethical alternative to their traditional search engine. Both of these companies have done a great job of changing the way we approach fundraising and WhaleSlide have continued this progression. We create custom branded search engines for charities supported by our technology. Our aim is not only to raise funds for worthwhile causes but also to improve people’s online experiences and innovate search. Youth at Risk have raised funds by adopting one of our custom sites as their default search engine for staff, whilst other charities have promoted it to supporters, volunteers and corporate partners. Offering users this new way to raise funds reflects a wider trend in the sector where charities are moving away from direct fundraising practices and towards passive giving.

5. Apps

There is no denying that the future of the internet lies in mobile and as a result we are starting to see some really exciting fundraising apps. The Check In For Good app works along the lines of Foursquare but with an ethical twist. It uses geo-targeted advertising to connect businesses and causes with consumers in order to raise money. When you visit a participating business you simply check in, they donate to charity and you get a free promotional offer, what’s not to like? Apps such as Penny For London have been successful in making a big impact by taking very small donations regularly. Commuters donate a penny to worthy causes with each journey they take on the tube. With creativity, there’s a whole world of possibilities for giving out there which is why this area is so exciting.

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It is clear charities are at the forefront of driving new digital trends. In the space of the last 5 years the landscape has changed immeasurably moving first towards better communication through social media and then towards making fundraising easier and more convenient. Recently, trends indicate a move towards allowing users to contribute through small but regular donations, and in some cases at no cost to themselves whatsoever. Observing how things develop from this point forward will be fascinating and at WhaleSlide we are looking forward to leading the charge.

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