- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Call it the Amazon effect.

Just as the online retailer has made purchasing items as easy as clicking a mouse, charitable organizations increasingly are using the internet to solicit and collect donations.

Since May 2016, individual online donations have increased by about 40 percent, and the amount per donation increased by 18 percent, according to Nonprofit Tech for Good, a social media resource for not-for-profit organizations. The network reported that $282,848,736 worth of charitable donations were made online last year.

With this in mind, many churches and charitable foundations are jumping on board the internet platform. To get their individual messages across, however, means getting creative in their approach.

Asha Curran is the organizer of #GivingTuesday, an annual global movement that uses social media to urge people to donate to charities on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, following the holiday shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. She says that in the age of the internet, success is not just about getting the dollars through the door.

“The point, now, is for organizations to put an emphasis on collaboration and creativity,” Ms. Curran said.

Brian Walsh, CEO and founder of Faith Direct, got creative with his organization since its inception about 10 years ago, and has ever since been collaborating with Catholic parishes across the nation to help their members easily give online.

Strong customer service is also a priority for Faith Direct, which aims to make it simple for Catholic churches to transition from passing the offering plate to using a completely digital platform for a flat rate.

Mr. Walsh’s game-changing business recently surpassed $1 billion in processed donations, and is typically named as the No. 1 company of its kind in the Catholic sector.

“As of the month of May, we have a 90 percent approval rating by our users,” Mr. Walsh told The Washington Times. “Ultimately [automatic withdrawals] makes for a more stable church or nonprofit, just because of the consistency.”

Mr. Walsh says the means of giving for the church are completely different today than they were even 10 years ago.

“We have over 143,000 users who are, largely, over 60 years old,” said Mr. Walsh. “You ask them about check writing, most of them are not doing it at all anymore.”

This is especially true for millennials — many of whom do not even own a checkbook, said Ms. Curran. She would know, since young people are the driving demographic for #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday puts an emphasis on social media to attract young adults who consume multiple forms of social media and baby boomers, who tend to have a large Facebook presence.

This makes sense for nonprofit marketers, as the projected global percentage of social media users is 33 percent by the year 2018.

“Our experiment with #GivingTuesday was to see if you could make generosity go viral in the same way a cat video goes viral,” said Ms. Curran. “The answer is very happily ‘yes!’”

Ms. Curran urges organizations that participate in #GivingTuesday to up the ante in the way donors participate too.

“Young people particularly want to be more involved in a cause that is important to them rather than just writing a check. They’re going to want to be a part of the impact their dollars have,” she said.

WeCanResist. It — a new donation app — is doing this in a revolutionary way.

After the presidential election, the app makers launched a campaign urging those who disliked the results to channel their anger into charitable giving. This type of generosity has been aptly named “rage donating.”

“We’re using Twitter, the very medium that [President] Trump loves best and that he says was key in helping him win the election,” app cofounder Allyson Kapin said in a press release.

Each time Mr. Trump tweets something the company considers to be hateful, a pre-arranged sum is transferred from users’ bank accounts to institutions on a list the WeCanResist group provides. The list includes Black Lives Matter, Vote Latino and the National Organization for Women — organizations the WeCanResist believes need the most support during the Trump presidency.

Donation amounts per month can be capped, and the group sends to users monthly reports on where exactly their money was sent.

Millennials appear to be the target focus for this endeavor.

But just because millennials are the long-term future of giving doesn’t mean they are the full mainstay in online donations. According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, donors between 40-59 years old are the most likely to give online.

This statistic proves the internet donation medium works for almost everyone, and nonprofits or churches who are not yet participating should give it serious consideration.

“By anyone’s estimation, donating through the internet is going to grow exponentially,” Ms. Curran said. “Online giving needs to be the basket we are putting all of our eggs in.”


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