Technology has been making our lives better, faster and (in theory) simpler for many years. Today IoT connects us, big data tracks us and machine learning outwits us, but finally, surely, it's time for technology to also unite us?
So I'm officially coining a new field of technological innovation; Philanthropy Technology (with the teeth-clenchingly-awful-yet-predictable nickname PhilTech).
Technology has the capacity to totally revolutionise charitable fundraising and indeed there are some very inspiring entrepreneurs in the 'PhilTech' (see... it's growing on you) field doing this already.
So why should we care about PhilTech?
1. PhilTech is down with the kids, for now, probably.
The third sector is often considered to be fairly archaic and this out-of-touch reputation has no doubt contributed to the declining support for charities amoungst the younger generations who expect immediacy, fluidity and 24/7 dog face filters. Technological philanthropy enables charities to have a presence in that space, thereby immediately becoming more relevant and resonant to that increasingly important younger audience.
An absolutely brilliant example of this in action is Playmob, who integrate charity campaigns into gaming platforms in genius ways. For example in a game called High School Story players could purchase a Cybersmile t-shirt for their avatar which raised money for the Cyberbullying Helpline. The Cybersmile campaign raised an incredible $336,238 on the Playmob platform, showing that being socially conscious can also be cool.
2. PhilTech can leverage CSR in more creative ways
It's no secret that corporations benefit hugely from being associated with charitable causes. In fact The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility found that 55% of consumers will pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. But often these corporate partnerships and programs are more hot air than impact, not through anyones' fault but just because the tools aren't readily avalible for them to leverage these opportunities fully. PhilTech has the potential to change this by attracting and harnessing these big corporate budgets in new ways.
A fantastic example of a tech startup who are using corporate funding to support amazing causes is TinBox. TinBox is a brand-sponsored donations app which allows people to support their chosen charities for free at the touch of a button - all paid for by their partner brands. It's a slice of win-win genius.
3. PhilTech offers a more sustainable funding model
Many of these new PhilTech solutions don't rely on one rich individual waking up the right side of the bed in the morning. Instead they work by gathering micro-donations where small sums can be collected multiple times, in vast volumes - resulting in incremental, collective impact. And as in any other field of tech-innovation, these new solutions have likely been under a process of intense UI / UX scrutiny. This means carving out the path of least resistance, making the journey through to donation as painless and unnoticeable as possible. PhilTech entrepreneurs are finding ways to integrate charitable giving into our existing lives and our existing behaviours .
For charities this is HUGE because it makes philanthropy more regular, reliable and long-term. Being able to have a stable and predictable source of income enables them to plan more effectively for the future and therefore maximise their impact.
A perfect example of this is a new app called ChariTable - a restaurant bookings app with a difference. The way it works is so darn clever you'll wish you'd have thought of it. Restaurants list themselves on the app and every time someone makes a reservation, the restaurant pays ChariTable a commission on the booking. 50% of this payment becomes a charity donation. That's £1 of free charitable giving every time you do something you're already doing. Free money. For amazing causes. For no extra work. And you get to eat afterwards? Shut up.
PhilTech enables us to give for free
There is a lot of money out there in the world. Bags of the stuff. And PhilTech enables charities to think outside of the box, or more specifically outside of the wallet, when looking for fundraising opportunities. There is inherent value in being able to drive sales or brand awareness or clicks or in the case of ChariTable, footfall into your venue, so by enabling businesses to do these things, we can unlock new value for the third sector.
Give As You Live works exactly in this way. Their users have donated over £7 million to charitable causes in the UK without spending a single penny! They do this quite simply by doing their weekly online grocery shop, ordering pizza, buying a holiday to Benidorm (good for charity, bad for their overall life satisfaction) switching their energy provider... By thinking creatively about how to create value within the online economy Give As You Live empowers all of us to make a difference by doing exactly the same things we already do.
So what have we learned and what does this mean for us at Good-Loop?
So I think first and foremost we've learned that the phrase 'PhilTech' is a grower.
But also there are some really important learnings here for Good-Loop. These examples highlight that it's important for us to ensure our tech is solving real problems for the third sector, whilst at the same time remaining relevant to our users and also being interesting enough to spark corporate interest.
Another interesting theme running through all of these PhilTech solution is how they achieve a balance between 'the cause' but also the end benefit for their users. Fighting the good fight is central to all of these businesses but it would also be naive to think philanthropy is an excuse for not still offering a high quality, rewarding user experience.
PhilTech may be still in it's early stages of development, but all over the world people are starting to join the dots between technology and impact. So now's the time to jump in.
This article was written by Good-Loop founder and Managing Director, Amy Williams.
If you'd like to find out more about the Good-Loop ethical advertising network please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org