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The Power of Technology to Enhance your Philanthropy

It’s not that long ago that you could donate to a charity by simply dropping a handful of parking meter change in the collection box. But, like everything in life, technology has quickly changed that. Charities now have to find new ways to engage with, and extract donations from, the public as fewer people carry change. It’s not just money that these organisations require, IT resources and skills are also in high demand and technology has made it possible to find help at the click of a button.

Raising and saving money with Social Media

There are a number of ways charities can engage with donors using technology, whether their mission is to raise awareness of the charity, make it easier to receive payments or to inform donors of where their hard-earned money has gone. Social media is the obvious choice. Facebook’s live streaming can be used to encourage more people to fundraising events and the colourful world of Instagram allows for social influencers to endorse a charity’s latest campaign. Using social media to keep people emotionally engaged on an on-going basis, without the need for huge budgets, has become a techno-logical necessity.

Recently, my brother signed up to run the Auckland Half Marathon. He was using this as an opportunity to raise money for the Blind Foundation Guide Dogs. His goal was to raise $100. Within 3 hours of posting the givealittle.co.nz page link to Facebook he had raised over $200 and had increased his goal to $300 and finished up with almost $400. It was also interesting to see that people from all over the world were able to easily donate to his efforts. Without the use of technology there is no way he would have raised that much money in that time frame.

Apps encouraging large scale giving 

Charitable organisations are starting to make more use of apps as a way of generating donations. One app that allows you to donate to a wide selection of New Zealand charities is the “EasyGiving” app. This has links to 65 (and counting) organisations. These range from Women’s Refuge and Body Positive to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Child Cancer Foundation. Users decide when, how much and which charity they would like to donate to. They can also track donations and at the end of the tax year they can collect all the tax credits. All from one, free app.

By using technology, you are not limited to just supporting local groups. GlobalGiving allows people to donate to a wide range of causes. People can decide on the type of project they wish to donate to anywhere in the world. In 15 years almost US$300 million has been donated to 18,000 projects.

There are apps that allow people to donate time to help out directly. One such app is the BeMyEyes app. This app matches visually impaired people to sighted volunteers around the world. A video connection is established between the two people. The visually impaired person then points their device at the area they need described so the sighted volunteer can explain things that are on the screen. This simple idea helps thousands of people every day find lost items, determine if the lights are on or off and see if food has reached its expiry date. What’s even more amazing about this app, is that by connecting people throughout the world on different time zones, a visually impaired person can get help in the middle of the night, when they’re at their most vulnerable and don’t want to wake up their neighbours.

Volunteering made easy through websites

It’s not just donating money that has been made easier by technology. There are also ways for people to offer their skills and time to charitable organisations through Seek.co.nz. Their page connects charities to people wanting to donate time to work on charitable projects, ranging from simple webpage management through to setting up online payments and app development.

If people don’t have the IT skills to donate time to an organisation, donating a PC’s unused computing power is one of the latest ways to give back. Research teams make use of millions of CPU’s (Central Processing Units) around the world when they are not in use. For these donation based organisations the cost to buy the computer power they require is prohibitive. By making use of the idle time on a computer people are able to contribute to a wide range of global research projects such as AIDS/HIV Research at worldcommunitygrid.org. You can join the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) at setiathome. berkeley.edu. Become part of the team looking for the building blocks that make up the Universe and donate your computers down time to Large Hadron Collider lhcathome.web.cern.ch.

Finally, as more cities introduce online payment options for car parking, there are fewer reasons for you to make a compulsory donation to the council for overstaying your welcome in a metered car park.

Greg is a new member of the Business Computing Services team in our Taranaki office. As the Business Development Manager, he works closely with clients to help them get the most out of their computer systems. Having previously worked within the IT department of the Royal Bank of Scotland Trust Bank, looking after the back-ups and file restorations for Lloyds, Credit Suisse and Bank of New York, Greg
is well qualified and passionate about finding IT solutions that really work for our clients. And he knows more than a thing or two about computer security.