In­ge­nu­ity on web helps char­i­ties reach donors

On­line giv­ing rises with easy meth­ods

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY EMMA AY­ERS

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. Get­ting their mes­sages across, how­ever, means get­ting cre­ative in their ap­proaches.

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 said 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. It 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 said the means of giv­ing for the church are com­pletely dif­fer­ent from what 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 check­books, said Ms. Cur­ran, adding that 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 be­cause the global share of so­cial me­dia users is pro­jected to be 33 per­cent by next year.

“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.

“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 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 co-founder Allyson Kapin said in a press re­lease.

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

Do­na­tion amounts per month can be capped, and the group sends users monthly re­ports on ex­actly where their money has been 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 ages 40-59 are the most likely to give on­line.

This statis­tic proves the in­ter­net do­na­tion medium works for al­most ev­ery­one, and non­prof­its or churches that are not 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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