UIS

How the digital revolution is changing charity retail

Written by Robert Finley
07/03/18

Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent today, influencing almost every aspect of our daily lives. From the way we purchase products, to social media empowering worldwide connectivity and buying power – its influence is felt by everyone.

Charities, however, are starting to embrace new technologies to better themselves through introducing websites, e-commerce platforms and third party selling, such as eBay and Amazon – all building towards improving online presence. Every day, the third sector is making moves to revolutionise their digital strategies, and it’s not just the national organisations either.

According to Reason Digital, charities missed out on an estimated £1.5bn of donations, due to websites not providing an optimised site for mobile devices, suggesting the importance that charities now face to embrace technology. This means charities must drastically grow efforts that are beyond traditional methods, such as, mass sponsorship events, cake sales and physical fundraising events - albeit still significant.

Driven by convenience, technology is making it easier and more accessible for charities to receive donations, through online fundraising and items that can be directly given to charity stores. Most people are already aware of sites such as JustGiving and VirginMoneyGiving, but 2018 offers are a new solution to raising money through the introduction of innovative apps capturing the mobile device-led audience - the power of which is unyielding.

App, tap, gone

Busy schedules, active engagements and living through the ‘experience economy’ means that people are left with little time to donate. However, apps like Gone for Good open opportunities for charities that generate more money and increase the likelihood of people donating pre-loved clothes, knick-knacks and furniture that would otherwise be thrown out. It responds to busy lifestyles and offers convenience to people who would like to donate items but simply don’t have the time.

The app gives users the option to have their donated goods collected from their home. Their suggestion of turning clutter into something good for the environment and giving to people in-need not only allows the donor to donate to a worthy cause but helps them solve their problem of unwanted goods. It’s a channel being harnessed by Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Children’s Air Ambulance and North West Air Ambulance among others and has already won the attention of partners such as Odeon, Moss Bross and numerous landlord companies.

Using the power of an easy-to-use application on smart phone, Gone for Good not only aims to re-channel 6 per cent of the saleable clothing and allow fewer items ending up in landfills but they also double the amount of stock available to those who live below the poverty line. The tech is not only enabling positive environmental change, but facilitating positive social outcomes too - who would have thought it?

Sending a virtual smile

Charities wanting to increase donor engagement and donations are also using the power of AmazonSmile. The ‘shop and give’ concept championed by the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, means the retail giant donates 0.5 per cent of the net purchase price of a person’s checkout to a charitable organisation of choice at no extra cost to customers or the charities they select.

Launched in November 2017, the program was rolled out in the US four years ago and has seen remarkable success, generating so far $62m - donated to over 230,000 charities. Currently there is a selection of 10 major UK charities including Cancer Research UK and The British Red Cross on the Amazon Smile UK list with more charities to be added to the list sometime during 2018.

Enrolment is simple for any official charity and with donations rounded up and sent to charities approximately 28 days after the end of the following calendar quarter, it’s been showing real signs of success for those already participating. What is needed now is for more to leverage Amazon’s reach by taking part. On the donor side, AmazonSmile makes it that much simpler for the millions of digitally savvy consumers, shopping on Amazon each day to donate.

Technology as the solution

With more than 195,000 charities across the UK, and most them small; fundamental technological changes can not only seem daunting, but out of reach. However, with the introduction of easily functional digital in-roads, the path to technological enlightenment isn’t far off.

The likes of the Gone for Good app is a way in which smaller organisations can avoid being overlooked when donors want to get rid of larger goods for example, and the visibility AmazonSmile allows could be life-changing for those charities without the digital marketing budgets of larger charities.

Moreover, digital advancements can act more than just a tool of applied science. Capturing accurate data that can be used to help charities become more effective and efficient in raising money. How they communicate with donors, thank them for their donations and keep in touch with them about the good work their donation helped to create are all ways in which the bond between donor and charity can be amplified. Add cloud-based Gift Aid information into the mix and it’s a powerful force to be reckoned with.

With a future firmly set in digital, charities are being called upon by the industry and by their donors to act now. Giving is contagious, charities can keep people motivated to donate in the future by embracing technology. The connectivity, convenience, and platform to communicate influential material are there for the taking.

Robert Finley is Business Development Director at Cybertill



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