BLOG: The three T’s of fundraising

As we hurtle towards a cashless society, fundraising is set to change. But it doesn’t need to mean the end of street collections. Instead it paves the way for digital giving and contactless collecting tins.

Invention, innovation and fundraising go together and nowhere is this truer than when viewed through the lens of the technological and digital trends that are currently sweeping through the sector.

Technology has powered donations from telethons to text to donate. However, there has also been a wave of online fundraising platforms to develop, not to mention other recent digital and social shifts, such as the profusion of crowdfunding and hacktivism.

In light of this, to meet and galvanise today’s fundraisers, charities now have to be where their donors are and that means they have to be online and integrated into the increasing social and digital networks in which they share information, shop and connect.

One of the most recent digital fundraising advancements to hit the sector comes via Amazon, in the form of AmazonSmile. Through this initiative, the retailer is now donating a percentage (0.5 per cent of the net purchase price) of millions of products to US charities, at no extra cost to customers or the charities that they select.

In the US where it’s been running for four years, AmazonSmile has generated a staggering $62 million for some 230,000 US non-profits and in 2018 it will launch in the UK with some ten charities as early stage beneficiaries including Cancer Research UK, The British Red Cross, and The Royal British Legion.

The Smile scheme will then be opened up to all charities registered with the Charity Commission later in the year. What’s so great about this initiative is that it’s a simple mechanic that capitalises on existing online behaviour, and allows micro donations to add up to something really quite startling.

Facebook has also recently announced its personal fundraiser tool in the UK, using its reach to encourage more people to donate to good causes. It allows people to raise money for a specific charity or cause and set up distinct fundraiser pages and fundraising targets. Pages are shareable and public and all donations are sent to the fundraisers personal bank account through Stripe, Facebook’s fundraising payment processor.

Another example of using technology to drive donations is Tesco’s recent “round up” initiative, supporting its strapline of “every little helps”. The grocer asked UK shoppers to round up their in-store bill to the nearest 10p to raise money for Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation.

But with all methods of fundraising, we can’t forget about the basics; transparency. These tools may be effective and tap into people’s daily habits and patterns, but as a sector we need to make sure the public know where their money is going. Last year, we ran a survey, which revealed that despite the most popular method for donating to charity now being via online transactions, almost 70 per cent of people surveyed had no idea that some online fundraising platforms charge up to 10 per cent commission on processing donations.

As well as slick tools, fundraisers and donors want greater transparency around what they're charged when donating online. The vast majority of people are unaware these costs exist, and we believe more needs to be done to ensure that people trust the companies they're donating through, otherwise the whole sector loses out.

With impending changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, charities are becoming increasingly reliant on their partners and suppliers to help them navigate complex regulation, such as PSD2 and GDPR, as the need for transparency is greater than ever.

In order to be trusted, businesses need to be transparent, accountable and able to prove the impact of their work. Recent events have put a spotlight on the issues of responsibility and donors’ trust, but only by being transparent can we really begin to rebuild this trust to benefit the industry and ultimately support those in need.

David Wiggins is the product and service manager at MyDonate

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