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The Changing Face of Charitable Giving


The face of giving to charitable causes has changed a lot in recent years. With advances in technology and new ways of thinking, more people are becoming directly connected with their charitable beneficiaries. Do any of these changes resonate with you?

Modern Technology and the Battle Against Poverty

One of the most dramatic of these changes can be seen by a recent move by Unicef. The group has long focused on providing infant vaccinations, supporting education in impoverished countries, and bringing clean water and sanitation to communities without access.

For example, in South Sudan, the struggle for any water is ongoing, especially during the dry season, and during the rainy season, clean water is hard to get, leaving many families devastated by cholera. The UNICEF-supported solution is a solar-powered water system. These have gone up in several communities and have the advantage of not needing an expensive source of fuel or routine repairs. This modern approach to an old problem has made it easier for children to go to school, parents to bathe their children, and families to eat nutritious meals.

UNICEF has also turned their efforts to raising cryptocurrency. Rather than asking for cash donations, the organization is asking for computer processing power, so they can mine cryptocurrency. The proceeds from these efforts will go to help Rohingya refugees in Myanmar. The mining effort requires a significant amount of power, so the charitable organization has reached out to volunteers who are willing to donate a percentage of their computers’ processing power to the UNICEF effort.

Smartphone apps are also being used as a way to gather financial donations. Some apps, such as ShareTheMeal and One Today allow givers to make a one-click donation. Other apps invite users to donate photos, such as Donate a Photo or Feedie, and some apps generate funds through games, such as Charity Tap and FreeRice. Still others encourage donors to be active for a cause, including apps such as Walk for a Dog, Charity Miles, and Budge.

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Newly-Structured Charitable Organizations

It isn’t unusual today to see younger professionals involved in charitable work, such as the efforts of Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva for UNESCO, but millennial philanthropists have different attitudes about their donations and volunteer efforts than their parents. In the past, volunteers saw established agencies or institutions as the source of solutions to current issues. Today, charitable organizations are more likely to represent the individual as part of the solution.

Modern non-profit organizations are more likely to provide several ways for donors to interact and contribute. For example, younger generations want to know where their money is going and see examples of how their gifts are impacting individuals and communities. Many charitable organizations are turning to social media to make information available and to reach out to new donors. For example, Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that supports new schools, scholarships, and teachers in developing countries, uses social media, an interactive website, and smartphone apps to keep volunteers engaged.

In today’s quest for donations and volunteers, charitable organizations are more likely to spend time offering transparency and creating meaningful stories. As potential donors are drawn into the lives of the suffering and as organizations are able to create connections between donors and recipients, more lives will be affected by donations of time, skills, money, and services.

Charites Are Taking Cues From Businesses

In the wealthiest countries, many charitable shops look like retail outlets where donated items are sold in a retail environment. The staff at these shops may be volunteers or recipients of the proceeds. The money earned from sales is often directed toward job training, housing, and food. What prompted this move?

Some charities have begun to bid for contracts (and some have been forced to do so.) For example, in order for a charity to receive money from the government, it may be required to provide evidence of reaching milestones, such as finding jobs for a specific number of unemployed. These charities may then face costs such as hiring trainers and related professionals with appropriate educational backgrounds. An increased number of college students are majoring in non-profit management and similar degree programs.

Those charitable organizations that depend on government and business backing have now turned to business peers to learn how to compete for financial support. In a newly competitive environment, these organizations have begun to pay more attention to the layout of their shops, invest in new technology, and ship donations to communities where they are likely to get the best returns. Some organizations may even list donations on eBay and other selling sites for better financial results.

As values and societal norms change, it isn’t surprising that expectations are changing as well. The world of charitable organizations is adapting to the new climate. As new trends take hold and younger professionals enter the scene, there may be many more changes on the horizon.