The Best of Tech: New Platforms We Love in the Nonprofit Sector
The relationship between nonprofits and donors is always evolving. New, innovative tech platforms for fundraising and management continually emerge on the market. These can increase organizational reach and impact, but there are remaining barriers to new technology for many nonprofits.
“Nonprofits are sadly underserved by new innovation, but operating within a landscape of changing consumer behavior,” explained Ryder Kessler, CEO and co-founder of DipJar. “In many ways, it’s the worst of both worlds—people aren’t opening their mail or writing checks, but [nonprofits] don’t have enough tools to move into a 21st-century fundraising landscape.”
Kestrel Linder, CEO and co-founder of GiveCampus, suggested that evolving technology creates both opportunity and risk for nonprofits. “As technology evolves, so too do people’s preferences and expectations,” he said. “It is now incredibly easy, sometimes even fun, to carry out everyday activities on the internet—to communicate, to network, to shop. If nonprofits don’t make it just as easy and just as fun for people to engage with them and support them philanthropically, people will turn their attention elsewhere.”
With so much happening in the tech market, it can be tough to keep up. These companies’ ideas show how organizations can stay ahead of the curve when the nonprofit sector and tech industry collide.
The concept: “Millennials are turning out to be a very philanthropic generation, but only when their preferences are accounted for,” said Linder. That’s the theory behind GiveCampus, a web platform with tools to enhance nonprofits’ digital appeal to donors under the age of 45.
“They like to give online and from mobile devices, and their peers and social networks play a key role in influencing their giving behavior,” Linder added. “GiveCampus is tailor-made to help nonprofits engage Millennials, forge relationships with them and cultivate a lifetime of philanthropy from them.”
Why we love it: GiveCampus is multifaceted—it consists of a fundraising platform and volunteer management platform, both geared toward nonprofit educational institutions and foundations. A third facet of the platform is designed to serve all types of nonprofits. “Giving Forms [are] a flexible product that allow an organization to create and manage fully customizable online [donation] forms that ensure donor conversion on any device,” Linder explained.
“The vast majority of these donors want to give online,” he said. “And GiveCampus provides the tools that nonprofits need to successfully reach and engage them there.”
The concept: Tech advancements in the nonprofit sector aren’t only in the form of online platforms: DipJar brings technology to in-person fundraising and engagement. The DipJar is a physical device in which donors simply “dip” their credit or debit card to donate the amount set on the DipJar—from $5 at a community event to $500 at a gala.
“DipJars can be plugged in anywhere and centrally administered,” said Kessler. “Send them with your volunteers to grassroots events, place them on the counter of a local retailer as part of a short-term campaign, or put them out at your headquarters where beneficiaries or volunteers are coming through the doors.”
Why we love it: “DipJar makes it easy to persuade a corporate or retail partner to host a collection,” Kessler explained. “[The partner] doesn’t have to program a solicitation into their point-of-sale system, do any back-end accounting or transfer funds.”
DipJar also provides the opportunity to give at another a key time: when people are experiencing your organization’s mission at in-person events. “Donors love that they can be generous ... when they’re experiencing the work of a cause firsthand,” said Kessler. “Ninety percent of individual donations to causes still happen offline—with cash, checks and pledge cards.”
In an era when people may not be carrying cash at all times, DipJar offers spontaneous supporters a way to support a cause. “[It] enables one-step donations that turn site visitors or event attendees into donors,” Kessler explained.
The concept: “People really live and die by their phones these days,” said Madison Altman, marketing coordinator at Givolio. “The idea started as simply an app for your phone that would allow you to create a portfolio of nonprofits that you are passionate about and give to them whenever you please.” Givolio creator and president Jason Broadwater set out to develop a platform that would allow users to donate instantly, interact with their favorite nonprofits and organize their giving.
“We’ve introduced into the market the idea of a giving portfolio. If someone has your organization in their giving portfolio, then they are long-term, repetitive givers to your organization,” said Broadwater. “Nonprofits should push to not only raise funds for an event, but to be in people’s giving portfolio.” The result was an app and web platform on which users can explore causes important to them, add up to 10
organizations to their giving portfolio, make donations, and print and send tax reports.
Why we love it: “Givolio was built on the idea of ‘microgiving’—that you would give $10 here and there when you hear that a nonprofit organization is in need,” said Altman. The app connects to Twitter so you can see tweets from your favorite organizations and learn about their new campaigns or sudden needs. The platform also offers the option of setting your portfolio to make recurring donations on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.
The concept: Studies have shown that people are likely to be more generous if they’re giving to an individual or group whose story they know, but it’s often a challenge for nonprofits to show such detailed outcomes. Benevolent is a platform that allows nonprofits and public professionals to post needs and fundraising goals of individual clients. Donors choose who their donation goes to and see what it will be used for.
“Benevolent [recipients] get funded by donors who simply want to know who they’re helping and that the story and the need are substantiated,” said Megan Kashner, CEO of Benevolent. On the site, recipients’ profiles tell their story and explain the need. All profiles are verified by a nonprofit or public professional working with the recipient.
Why we love it: Benevolent itself is a nonprofit. “Our work is about helping people help people,” said Kashner. To illustrate this, she shared a story of a Benevolent recipient whose probation officer posted his need. “Oke is a high school senior getting back on track. He plans to go to college and needs a laptop to finish school, apply to college, find a part-time job and subsequently succeed as a college student,” Kashner explained. “By helping Oke access the computer he needs, Benevolent donors will help both Oke and his probation officer reach goals and success.”
Other examples of needs are a pair of glasses, a bus pass to get to school and furniture for an individual overcoming homelessness. “You can [use] the site to help your clients reach their goals and overcome critical barriers,” Kashner said. “Over 90 percent of the needs posted to the Benevolent site get funded by our community of compassionate donors.”
The concept: Abhay Tewari, Sumbon CEO and co-founder, was working at Apple when he learned firsthand the challenges donors face in finding an organization addressing a cause of interest, making a donation and seeing results. Determined to create change, he quit his job and founded Sumbon. The platform is designed to reduce challenges that donors face throughout the giving process, such as finding and selecting a charity, keeping track of donations, and
seeing the difference they’ve made.
Why we love it: The site boosts fundraising capabilities without an added cost—organizations only pay a small commission when receiving a donation through the site. “Nonprofits can create project-specific ‘fundraisers’ that allow donors to choose exactly what initiatives to support, use the engagement platform to create meaningful content that allows them to build relationships with a motivated donor base, [and] leverage their good reputation by allowing prospective donors to read from previous supporters,” said Tewari. “Donors give to make a difference and we help nonprofits communicate the difference.”