[ A guest post by Bob Hand ]
Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the presidential election has spurred many protests across the nation, but many Americans are expressing discontent through more unconventional means: donations to nonprofit organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union alone received over $7.2 million in donations in the days following the election — a figure that is over 250 times greater than the same period in 2012.
Political vitriol is not the only factor that has caused an increase in charitable donations and advocacy in recent years. Advancements in technology have changed the way that we donate to nonprofits. Here are three ways that technology is changing the way that people donate today:
People are holding nonprofit organizations accountable.
Today, donors generally want to know how their contribution will be spent. Many people avoid donating to organizations that are not transparent. Today, nonprofit organizations must give an indication of what sort of impact potential donations will have on their cause.
Through the internet, it is now much easier for users to access this information. Performance metrics can demonstrate how efficiently an organization uses money to support a cause. Watchdog websites keep track of performance metrics and advocate for transparency in nonprofits. This information can have a profound impact of an individual’s decision to donate to a particular organization or not.
There are new ways to donate.
For those looking to make donations, there are more options for making payments than ever. Nearly every major nonprofit organization takes online payments, and many take Paypal donations. Even Apple Pay can be used to make donations as of November 14th. Not only are global organizations like UNICEF prepared to take such payments, many startups are now taking mobile payment donations. According to Apple, organizations are reporting that twice as many people are using Apple Pay to make donations than with other payment methods.
Another development that has changed the way that charitable organizations work is the advent of crowdfunding. Now that there are several years of evidence to support the effectiveness of crowdfunding campaigns, many nonprofits have started to give this method a shot. Through crowdfunding sites, nonprofit organizations can raise money online. Donors can even contribute to specific, hyperlocalized causes. It is now much easier for an individual to donate to a cause that will have a clear impact on their day-to-day life.
Technology can encourage superficial engagement.
It has never been easier to spread awareness for a cause. With a single click, social media users can share an organization’s message to many others. On the downside, social media advocacy has partially replaced real-world engagement. There are problems for both users and organizations that can lead to superficial engagement.
Due to the nature of social media, users are encouraged to share or retweet a message, rather than follow through with the intent of the message itself. This type of advocacy is superficial because it muddles the call-to-action (what organizations want a user to do) of the message. Marketers can combat this with a prominent call-to-action and effective advertising, but the impact of social media on advocacy can be deceptive.
With advocacy today, there is a problem of breadth versus depth. As an organization gains a larger following online, they have to choose how to address their growing audience. Highly targeted messages may spur specific demographics into donating or taking action, but they can have a negative impact on the brand for other users. Broad messages can appeal to more of the audience, but they are less likely to encourage followers to donate. Marketers need to strike a delicate balance to encourage the maximum level of engagement.
Now more than ever, people who make charitable organization are informed. Nonprofit organizations are being held accountable for what they do with contributions. Furthermore, advancements like crowdfunding are encouraging people to donate to local causes. While these are very positive advancements, we should be careful to not grow complacent with “desktop advocacy”. As technology advances, our capacity to make a difference in the world grows; it is essential that we take advantage of it.