The Time Traveler’s Guide to Charitable Giving
We live our lives as limited beings within the borders of time and space. And as much as we seek a certain transcendence of thought, word or action, without these natural, physical limitations governing our days and years, we would not exist.
And that’s not going to change.
Or is it?
Our lives have been in constant flux ever since the Penydarren Locomotive cut across the Welsh countryside hauling ten tons of iron. We all know how this story unfolds—here we are, 213 years later, designing nano-spacecrafts to travel at ⅕ the speed of light to reach our nearest star system.
Think for a minute, the amount of knowledge we can store within the small frame of our devices. In ancient times, when some marauding dictator thought torching a library might be a cool thing to do, thousands of years of knowledge was lost. Forever! Now, we press a button, upload to some amorphous “cloud,” and it’s all good.
Technology has provided the tools for us to completely reinvent our existence. Anyone who remembers life before EZ-pass knows this. We’re basically living the life of superheroes, manipulating time and space and, heck, we even got the whole Peter Parker fashion statement to go with it.
But what does any of this have to do with charitable giving?
When I was a kid, I grew up with a charity box. Each day we’d drop in a few coins until they reached the top, and Lord knows what happened to it then. My parents must of called someone to come pick it up or mailed it somewhere, but I never really knew. Can you imagine that guy whose job it was to collect all those boxes, count all those coins and then face the happy bank teller to deposit ‘em all? That was one gutsy guy (or gal)! I salute you.
And then, how long would it take for the money to actually reach anyone in need?
So many steps. So much time lost.
Today, giving to the causes we care about has become more efficient than ever before. We connect to our bank or paypal, and voila! The funds are immediately on their way to making an impact.
So while scientists are busy teleporting photons, how do you, working within the nonprofit world, teleport new givers and enthusiasts to your cause?
Years of online fundraising have proven that the more fun and efficient, the more successful it will be. Make the user experience as friendly and easy as possible. PBS does a great job offering the opportunity to link your information for regular automatic donations, and they even throw in all six seasons of "Downton Abbey."
Talk about perks of charitable giving!
We 21st century humans severely lack delayed gratification skills—they’re pretty much on the verge of extinction. And so, if your fundraising methods are not easily or widely accessible, if we can’t find that donate button or if we have to enter a ton of information before making a donation, we’re going to lose interest. Fast.
Shopping cart abandonment is a mega-billion dollar loss to companies each year. Seriously, how many pairs of shoes do you have moping around in carts throughout the online universe?
How many people aren’t supporting worthy causes merely because an organization’s technology lacks innovation? And if we don’t step up and make some changes, NPOs will keep losing millions of potential donor dollars.
Innovation in technology is not only reserved for the user experience. It streamlines everything we do as an organization, minimizing the distance from donation to actual food in the mouth.
Incorporated into your infrastructure, technology gets heavy lifting out of the way with communication tools like slack and project management tools like asana. Allowing you and your team to do more with less.
I know NPOs who do wonderful work distributing food packages to those in need. But we can do better.
Think about how much more efficient (and less embarrassing) it would be to receive credit at local food stores instead of receiving a big box emblazoned with the Robin Hood Foundation logo for all the neighbors to see. The cost of warehouses, trucks and boxes are eliminated, while also maintaining the dignity of the patrons we serve.
Consider how quickly information travels through our social networks. When we run an online campaign right, we can share information, engage our constituents and form alliances with other organizations instantly—in real time.
About a year ago, I attended the AFP Conference in Boston, where an organization made a presentation using VR goggles. One moment I was three blocks from the site of the Boston Tea Party, the next I was standing in a thatched roof classroom in Africa. It was mind-blowing to figuratively—nay, literally—“step across” continents and time zones into a small village hut in the middle of a desert. Imagine the possibilities for sharing and inspiring! At the very least, we can hope to see less time, money and manpower spent on a video pitch for a potential benefactor, and instead more “travel time” across the globe to places we never knew existed, in which we never realised we could make a difference.
A huge difference.
And that’s where the notion of “teleportation” leaves the realms of science fiction and attains the deepest, spiritual proportions.
It’s time for the superheroes of the nonprofit multiverse to own their superpowers. To bend light. Collapse space.
To be unlimited.
Moshe Hecht, winner of the 2017 NonProfit PRO Technology Professional of the Year, is a philanthropy futurist, public speaker and chief innovation officer of Charidy, a crowdfunding platform and consulting company that has helped 3,000 organizations raise over $700 million.
Moshe's passion lies at the intersection of technology and charitable giving. When Moshe is not at the office, he is writing music and enjoying downtime with his wife and three redheaded children.