How the Smarter Use of Technology Can Increase Charitable Donations

Individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, accounting for 72% of all contributions received that year (National Center for Charitable Statistics).


GivingUSA provides a breakdown of dollars per category for the year 2014:

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How can the smarter use of technology increase charitable donations?

First, let’s look at charitable organizations in the top categories and identify their smart use of technology that are driving donations.


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Charitable Donations for Religious Organizations

A 2013 survey found that over 50% of millennials never use checks. Churches and other religious organizations who embrace technology are leading the way by utilizing a variety of tech-savvy donation options.

The most popular option: A website landing page that allows visitors to give through ACH Transfer, PayPal, or eCheck.

Churches are driving donations with the latest advancements in mobile technology:  QR codes, on-site kiosks that accept debit and credit cards, and card scanners attached to iPads and iPhones. Mobile payment options like Apple Pay for Donations and Stripe are helping churches make it easy for visitors to donate with a swipe or double click.


Education Fundraising

Schools and education organizations are embracing the use of technology designed just for them. PayPal for Education gives schools and organizations more than just a payment portal; it provides an option for a custom website and store, and Edbacker, an online fundraising management tool.


Organizations that provide education fundraising services are also embracing smart tech:

  • Boosterthon incorporates the power of emails, videos, social media, and digital payment processing to drive pledges.
  • Yankee Candle offers online fundraising options for schools; donors can skip the trip to the mall and have candles delivered right to their front door.
  • Donors Choose gives teachers the power to drive donations for their classrooms. They can request specific items or ask for general funds to go toward larger products and tools.
  • Scholastic Book Fairs offers online buying options. The website is designed with the user in mind; parents can search for book fairs by location, and schools can submit a request to host a bookfair with a simple online form.


Schools and education organizations benefit when donors can act immediately upon hearing about a cause that supports the school or community, and new technologies give them the ability to give right away.


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Human Services Charities

Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket Donations drove over $59,000 in the Fall of 2015 for nine human services charities. Charity Navigator is the result of internet technology and data analytics, bringing everyone free access to charity evaluations based on financial health, accountability, and transparency.


The Giving Basket launched in 2015, allowing donors to showcase charities on their websites, give anonymously, simplify giving tax receipts, and more. Since its launch, the Giving Basket has facilitated more than 20 million dollars in charitable donations.


Technology is not only responsible for the existence of Charity Navigator, but it’s also helped the organization launch products to increase donations through hosted solutions, offering an API and more.


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Health Charitable Donations

Community clinics are growing in response to a crowded healthcare system and changes in healthcare insurance legislation. These clinics rely on a large percentage of donations to serve and care for patients.


Clinics are driving donations by prominently displaying statistics and information on their website, appealing to the emotions of potential donors.


UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles

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The UMMA website serves up key information about years of service, number of patients served, and prominent Donate Today and Give buttons.  During the checkout process, donors have an option to set up recurring donations to support the clinic on a monthly basis.


Breast cancer charity used to center around one primary organization: Susan G. Komen. With advancements in breast cancer treatment and care, many breast cancer charities and fundraising organizations are now part of the breast cancer support network. Through technology advancements in website design, social media, and digital touch points like email newsletters, there’s room for multiple organizations in this space.


The Tigerlily Foundation not only supports women with breast cancer through donations and sponsorships, but it also gives supporters the ability to start their own fundraising campaign. The technology behind the platform gives supporters access to event materials, fundraising tools, and more.


Charitable Donations for Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Charities and nonprofits for arts, culture, and humanities have to embrace technology and make it easy for donors to give. While these categories can drive large donations from individual donors, they don’t receive the visibility and coverage that health and human services charities receive.


The Americans For the Arts website gives donors seven options for giving with the click of a button on their Support page:


Americans For The Arts

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Environment and Animal Charitable Donations

The environment and animals are hot topics, often at the top of the list for trending news. Brands that capitalize off of trending topics can drive philanthropic efforts through effective social media, PR, and SEO.


Patagonia uses data analytics to make a case for supporting their brand:

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Right from the home page, Patagonia makes their commitment to the environment very clear to every visitor. Using the power of engaging, clear web design, Patagonia enthusiasts feel good about supporting a brand who drives fundraising for environmental causes.


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Public Society Benefit Fundraising

The building of trust and recognition for personal crowdfunding sites like YouCaring.com and GoFundMe have given individual donors the ability to donate directly to natural disaster relief. From crowdfunding for individual families to entire communities impacted by earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, the rise of crowdfunding has given everyone an opportunity to make a direct impact on public society benefit fundraising.


These crowdfunding tools use secure payment portals and integrate easily with social media to help spread the word quickly when awareness and needs are at their highest levels.


  • Modern web design with easy-to-use navigation and multiple calls to action for donations and support.
  • Offer easy-to-incorporate social media sharing options. Even government websites are using social media to connect with citizens; philanthropic organizations can no longer hide behind brick and mortar walls.
  • Effective delivery of high-impact data visualization. Charities who receive the highest amount of donations display relevant, emotion-provoking data on their website to drive donors to act.
  • Mobile and App Technology that makes it easy for donors to give. By embracing the technology and meeting donors where they are, the average year-to-year change in total giving surpassed the 40-year average between 2015 and 2016.


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Embracing the shift in technology will help to drive even more individual donors to charities in the future. As more and more organizations drive donations with modern technology, their message will reach more and more people, securing more donors and greater impact.

Khuram Zaman

Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a leading digital agency serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area based out of the 1776 Startup Co-working Space. In his professional capacity, he has provided digital marketing services to clients as diverse as the Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Oxfam America, Ernst and Young, and The Hult Prize. His writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and Business2Community. Khuram is the host of the Campfire: Impact and Innovation live podcast on Youtube. In his free-time, Khuram serves as a mentor to startups through the Peace Tech Accelerator, the Halycon Incubator, and is also a Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University