Technology Makes Charity Easier to Promote and Harder to Ignore

I remember my 6th grade Walk A Thon to raise funds for my school. Tasked with filling up a roster of people willing to sign pledge paper, I stalked my family and family friends looking for them to pledge an amount per lap that I walked.

Tapping my network of possible donors who didn’t have their savings in a piggy bank required almost as much time and effort than the actual walking did. Even after the Walk A Thon, there was the somewhat awkward collection process of calling everyone up, telling them how much money to send and where. Given I solicited a lot of donations from some older folks who lived out of state, getting that donation back to my school could often be a bit of hassle as well.

Getting money for a charitable cause is never easy unless you’re maybe a celebrity. Still though you have to look at how easy and efficient raising charitable donations has become via technology albeit at the cost of personal touch and inundation of charity requests in a given year.

Rewind 10 or even 5 years ago. If you were raising money for a cause, you’d probably talk to your friends, family, and co workers and would mainly utilize the phone to augment in your in person efforts.

Today requests for charitable donations can make their way to you through:

– email

– blogs you read

– Twitter

– Facebook (there are even third party extensions to help facilitate donations)

– Text messages

These methods are all in addition to the general web where people can request for donations through donation causes websites. In fact my sister for her birthday requested that I donate some money for books for her classroom. I was obliged to do it but snoozed a couple of hours in which time frame an anonymous donor saw her request and fully funded the purchase of hundreds of dollars of books.

And behind all the methods for you to market your cause, there are easy to make microsites to be a web hub for people who want to give or learn more. In previous years it was essentially easier to plead ignorance or forgetfulness when it came to the giving part after you were made aware of the cause. Now people can set up simple sites where all the info is laid out typically with a merchant account that can transact a payment.

Before the days of cell phones and computers, the amount of people you saw in a given week or had a memorized phone number for was probably somewhere between 1-100. Given many of you are like me and have hundreds of Facebook friends, the email addressees of hundreds/thousands of contacts, and have the phone numbers of various contacts saved to your phone, the reach of your message is inherently grown by just allowing yourself to utilize these tools to solicit donations.

If you think about this from a sales and marketing perspective, the amount of good leads you have contact information is multiples higher, the sales process is shorter, the marketing tools are greater, and the payment process is now built in.

With all these advancements for the better, unfortunately some of the charm of raising money for charity has been lost. I mean would you want the girl scouts to only take web orders? There is something natural in buying cookies from the Girl Scouts in person and encouraging them in their efforts and their affiliation for their group.


The Girl Scouts are not the best example as its a recreational group, but with every mass email, microsite, and 143 character Tweet, the request for a donation becomes less personal.

You’re asking me for money, to support a cause, to give away some funds for personal use to support something you are involved with, and doing so in a a day and age where financial resources are meager and technology has propelled a much more frequent rate of donation requests.

At the end of the day, unless you are inclined to donate to all or none of the requests you field, it becomes a somewhat difficult decision making process.

The IT guy from 4 jobs ago is trying to feed poor kids

The girl I am FB friends with from college who I had a crush on but never asked out is raising money for cancer research.

The second baseman from my high school baseball team is raising relief money for Haiti.

These are all hypothetical but you get the point. You probably like all these people to some degree and who isn’t supportive of cancer research, feeding kids, and rebuilding after a natural disaster?

At the end of the day your personal connection to me is probably the biggest indicator on if I’ll donate money. After that, I really want to feel sold to. Why this charity? How did you get involved? Will you do it next year? How you been since high school? How much money are you trying to raise? How does the money help your cause?  Are you single and know I had a crush on you in college? Does philanthropy turn you on?


I guess what I am trying to say is that of late I’ve got a crap ton of requests to give a whole hell of a lot of people donations for a lot of greast causes. A good amount of them have been very cookie cutter pitches and I don’t feel sold to.

While I am proud that you’re doing something beneficial to society, I hope you’ll take into consideration how competitive your request for donations is with others and will not remove the personal touch from the pre internet days. I’d also like to know that you’re really emotionally invested in the cause you’re involved with and not beefing up your MBA resume or just doing something because its something everyone at your office is doing.

Do that and you should be good. If not you better hope you’re a babe from college who is turned on by philanthropy.



About Ben Koo

Owner and editor of @AwfulAnnouncing. Recovering Silicon Valley startup guy. Fan of Buckeyes, A's, dogs, naps, tacos. and the old AOL dialup sounds