4 ways tech can help first-time donors

In the past few years there’s been an evolution in the way that we make charitable donations thanks to developments in data and tech.

According to Enthuse’s quarterly research study, 67% of the public say they are likely to give in the next 12 months. With this large percentage of people making a commitment to give, it is possible that we will see more first-time donors embarking on their philanthropic journey.

Navigating philanthropy and identifying the right causes to give to can seem like a minefield when you’re first starting out. But with the explosion of data and tech-powered tools, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Here are four ways data and tech can help you to get started on your philanthropy journey.


1. Empowering anyone to be a donor

Philanthropy has often been considered an activity for the rich and retired, but the rise in digital giving platforms means it’s now for everyone. Platforms like Just Giving, Virgin Money Giving and Localgiving make it easier than ever to donate money digitally, while many charities also have their own online fundraising technology.

virginmoneygivingThese platforms are also responsible for a shift in the way we define philanthropy. While many of us might think of philanthropy only as donating large sums of money regularly, digital platforms are making giving more accessible to everyone – no matter their budget.

Alliance magazine reported that in 2020 giving grew by 10% in the US, thanks to an increase in small donors. Perhaps we will see the UK follow this trend. With online donation platforms philanthropy can be big or small, frequent or infrequent, and most importantly, it can reach all new demographics.

New giving platforms can allow you to dip your toe in the water by starting your giving at a lower, more manageable amount and increasing as and when you feel comfortable to do so.


2. Identifying the right causes to support

When you start your giving journey, it can be difficult to know what causes you should focus on. Do you support the causes closest to your heart? Or do you look at the data for funding shortfalls in specific areas?

brevioLuckily, there are now a number of platforms and services that can help you decide where to direct your focus. For example, Brevio – a grant-building platform – has a range of research tools which let philanthropists set up their own fund and gain real-time insights on where the current funding need is.

Corporate giving platforms like Benevity, Neighbourly and Semble showcase charitable projects that are looking for funding. And for comprehensive data on current funding needs, New Philanthropy Capital has developed a data dashboard that captures the locations most affected by Covid-19, as well as the level of demand for charities across the UK.

Using innovative solutions like these can show you which areas are currently underfunded and/or overwhelmed with demand for their services, ensuring you support places which will most value your contribution.


3. Providing better oversight & accountability

In recent years, there’s been a strong trend towards greater transparency and accountability for charities. In the US, platforms like Give Well and Charity Navigator provide detailed ratings on charities by assessing data on their programs and impact to help users find trustworthy charities to support.

charity commissionLocally, the Charity Commission’s online register provides detailed information on all charities registered in England and Wales, including financial details. You can find similar information on charities in Northern Ireland via Charity Commission NI and via OSCR for Scotland. 

If you’re thinking about supporting a particular charity, it’s always good to do your research beforehand and these digital registers make it much easier.

Feeling comfortable that charities are using your contributions responsibly is one of the biggest factors for a good giving experience. Refer to the Charity Commission’s website for clear and direct financial data about charities you wish to support.


4. Tracking the difference you make.

Better data is providing greater opportunity to track the impact that your funding has made. Organisations like 360 Giving are leading the way in sharing data within the third sector. Through collecting and publishing data on what was funded, 360 Giving has established the #OpenGrants movement. This helps philanthropists see where their funds are going and where funding might still be needed. 

From the charity perspective, So Give is another platform that aims to measure impact across the sector. So Give helps charities track their own impact and provides information on what impact your funding actually makes. For example, their research shows exactly how many children are able to be treated with anti-malaria medication based on the amount of money donated to the Malaria Consortium.

Ambiguity around the impact of your donation can lead to unfulfilling giving experiences. Exploring independent services like 360 Giving and So Give will allow you to draw the cause and effect line for your philanthropy.


What does the future hold for tech in philanthropy?

This is just the start of how tech and data can help first-time donors. The tech space is evolving and innovating at a rapid pace. The explosion of new platforms for digital fundraising, corporate giving and grant applications is helping to build an online ‘funding marketplace’.

While usually it is up to charities to search for and apply for available funding, newer approaches are emerging which will give charities the chance to showcase their projects and their funding requirements to potential funders. This inverse approach lets potential funders and first-time donors be more proactive in their giving by seeking out charities they’d like to partner with.

Perhaps in the future we will see the funding marketplace develop a ‘Netflix-style’ solution where users can browse and fund projects based on common interests and categories. With tech and data pushing the boundaries in the third sector, first time donors have an abundance of tools at their fingertips to help them get started on their philanthropic journey.


About Brevio

Brevio empowers the charitable sector to achieve more. We automate the initial steps in grant applications, to free up hundreds of millions of pounds every year in administration. We’re a matching platform that links funders and charities based on the impact they both want to achieve. Find out more about Brevio here and follow @hellobrevio on Twitter for updates.