The digital way to give

Nothing is immune to the digital revolution and the way we donate is undergoing a substantial change. In the latest in BlueNotes' series on the passion and science of giving, Shout for Good CEO Jane Martino writes about philanthropy and the digital revolution.

"The sooner not-for-profit organisations embrace the digital revolution, the better."
Jane Martino, CEO of Shout for Good (Shout)

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Australia's philanthropic sector has evolved over the years and in turn giving trends have changed. The rise of the digital economy means money is changing hands quicker than ever before and it is no different in the philanthropy sector. The sooner this spreads in the community, the better.

The growth in social enterprise is a sign the business community is maturing in the digital age. The number of cooperatives, not-for-profits and companies operating for a social purpose is rising, a development that has been fuelled by the increasing demand from customers choosing to do business with companies 'doing good' in the community.

Digital has been a fundamental game changer for philanthropy, particularly among donor activity. As digital technologies have opened up new channels for giving and created an ease and access not previously available, many charities benefit.

While some challenges remain for the sector, such as the risk donors will pull back on charitable donations in the current economic climate as well as the rise in charitable competition, overall the sentiment within philanthropy is optimistic.

This positive perspective is reflected in O'Keefe & Partners' 2014 Giving Trends and Predictions report which found 64 per cent of survey participants felt optimistic about the future of philanthropy over the next three years and 67 per cent of not-for-profit leaders believed personal giving was steady or rising.

Reaffirming the effect of the digital disruption, when asked what the biggest change would be in the industry in the next five to 10 years, the majority of respondents said increased online engagement. The report also found engagement is moving from the periphery to the core of the fundraising mix.


Emerging technology will continue to change the shape of the philanthropy sector and giving in Australia.

While the full impact is unknown, the importance of the digital revolution has been recognised by the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership which recently launched a research project looking at the digital future for giving and volunteering.

It has commissioned the Queensland University of Technology Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies to research emerging technology and platforms for giving and volunteering in Australia and overseas.

From little things

ANZ bought the Shout platform in April 2015 for an undisclosed price. The app's aim is to create new, more-regular income streams for charities based on the understanding that small amounts all add up and make a large difference to a charity.

Increased access to information and spending ability provided by mobile phones and applications mean sometimes giving is just a thumb-click away. Shout integrates giving into everyday activities like shouting a friend a coffee. Shout is a mobile app and website that can be used to donate small amounts to charities anywhere and anytime.

The project will assess current technology and platforms for giving in Australia as well as the use and engagement with these, and will analyse emerging technology and platforms and explore ways to harness them to increase giving among communities. The research will inform policy and highlight ways charities can benefit more from technology and IT capacity building.

There are benefits for the philanthropic sector if more charities embrace the possibilities of online and digital platforms as giving channels. It will enable organisations to attract a new generation of donors and start to decrease reliance on old-fashioned methods of fundraising such as direct mail and 'chuggers'.

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It will also no doubt naturally increase the amount the community is contributing if we make it easier, more mobile and a superior user experience for people to give in the moment they feel compelled to do so.

The sooner not-for-profit organisations embrace and utilise the digital revolution, the better. It provides them the potential to create a future proof strategy around fundraising for the next generation.

Jane Martino is CEO of Shout for Good (Shout)

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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