Technology is reshaping the way nonprofit organizations, charitable causes, and relief agencies solicit donations and volunteers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
CauseWorld — which launched two months ago with funding from CitiGroup, Kraft Foods, and Procter & Gamble — has raised about $400,000 for various community organizations since its launch with a mix of mobile phone applications, geo-location technology, and social media campaigns. And Miami-based Project Medishare, which is working to bring much-needed medical services to Haiti, saw its donations from an annual year-end fundraising drive jump from less than $700 a year ago to $44,000 after integrating social media into its donor-outreach activities.
A report from the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that total giving in the United States totaled $307 billion in 2008. According to Mark Davis, an executive at fundraising software-provider Blackbaud in Charleston, South Carolina, an estimated 30 percent of that was donated online. A separate study co-authored by Davis and consulting firm Charity Dynamics found that organizations which adopted social media could increase their fundraising by up to 40 percent.
Indeed, the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January highlighted the fundraising potential of social media, as relief and humanitarian organizations raised more than $21 million, in $5 and $10 increments, in less than forty-eight hours through a mobile phone text-message campaign. In part as a result of the campaign's success, the Washington, D.C.-based Mobile Giving Foundation, an organization that works with carriers to set up mobile giving campaigns, is currently working with more than four hundred organizations, including a number that are raising funds for earthquake relief and recovery efforts in Chile.
"People have come to accept that this is the way to fundraise," said Julio Vasconcellos, creator of San Francisco-based TwitCause, an organization that uses Twitter to gain attention for various community causes. "With social media, you can reach out to hundreds of people within a couple of hours, whereas in the past, that would take days," added Vasconcellos. "We're reaching three million people every month with TwitCause."