COVID-19 challenges: digitizing the non-profit sector

Elena Vasina

Public Relations Specialist at Red Line Foundation and Public Relations Manager at Bredley Holding

 


The digitalization trend has captured all areas of life. Two-thirds of the world’s population use the Internet and almost half are registered on social networks today. Virtual space is increasingly becoming a field of social interaction. Therefore, the third sector has long begun to master digital tools for its work. At the same time, the introduction of innovations in the field of philanthropy is incomparably slower than in other industries.

non-profit organizations

Charitable foundations, as a rule, devote all resources to helping those in need, and innovation within the organization is often of lower priority. Saving lives or reducing suffering at the moment is more important than developing a foundation. Therefore, the third sector often lags in the implementation of innovations.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced non-profit organizations to do the work they were neglecting in a matter of days. Today charity is adapting to the new reality, although not without problems. Some projects were canceled or postponed, operating models were revised. Those who, by the time of quarantine, moved part of their processes online, were able to adapt to the situation. But those who adhered to paperwork or office work were paralyzed. However, any crisis is not only about the difficulties and the need to change quickly. This is often a turning point, an opportunity to determine the path of development. Digitalization is opening up new opportunities for charities.

Communication and patient support through online services

A significant part of the audience of charities does not have access to digital communication channels. Foundations that work with homeless people or poor people without access to technology are at a particular disadvantage. However, social networks and special portals are simply irreplaceable for communication with other categories of recipients. For example, for our organization, which deals with helping people with limited mobility in different countries, this is one of the main channels of communication.

The Internet provides access to a huge audience. Therefore, it is important that the website of the charitable organization contains relevant information and is adequately displayed on modern devices, including mobile ones. If the format of work suggests this, create an online application for assistance. Do not ignore social networks, often people are more comfortable talking about their problem or leaving a request in the informal Facebook environment. Don’t forget to update and monitor your social media pages.

Some organizations have introduced hotlines or Zoom consultations to support their recipients and patients during the quarantine. There are examples of developing applications for a mobile phone that help track health.

New opportunities for fundraising

Modern financial technologies open up almost unlimited possibilities for fundraising. Fintech is particularly relevant given the ubiquitous decline of cash in response to the threat of a pandemic. Unhygienic cash payments made charities to find alternative fundraising methods. This means that investing in contactless solutions for the philanthropic sector will be in the spotlight in the coming months.

The use of technology can be very different. For example, Revolut Bank has added a donation to its services, which allows its customers to round-up card transactions and donate the change to charity. Cleo – a savings management service introduced the ability to donate a percentage of one’s savings. The PayPal payment system allows you to donate to charity with just a few clicks. Also, there are already quite a few applications and platforms that were created for charity. Goodworld is an online fundraising resource that allows you to make donations via social media by adding #donate to your message. Some fintech help carry out fundraising campaigns, for example, Chuffed and more.

Thanks to innovation, the volume of online donations is growing from year to year, and this trend will continue to grow. Technologies that offer a seamless mobile experience will be crucial. Charitable organizations must ensure mobile usability and optimize their online donations for smartphones to be effective in the future.

Besides, non-profit organizations should consider hosting contactless virtual events. For example, fundraising during an online live stream is gaining popularity. Charities have been holding a range of fun events including games, educational lectures, movies, and even sports activities. It is important to build the right interaction with the audience so that people not only have a good time but also manage to raise the necessary funds. Technology enables a very wide audience to be involved. Non-profit organizations also are mastering the sphere of e-commerce, gathering money by selling their own branded merchandise.

Populations are aging, the climate is changing, and the global pandemic is wreaking havoc on the economy, aggravating the problem of poverty. All this exacerbates the need of society for charity. Technologies can help charities adapt to the new reality by providing new and better ways to raise funds, connect with audiences, and work effectively. Leveraging innovation will not only overcome the crisis but will also lay the foundation for future development.

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