Monday, January 30, 2012

The Role Of Technology In Philanthropy

The World Economic Forum, one of the largest gathering of business and political types, began last week in Davos, Switzerland.  Where there is talk of money, philanthropy will naturally become a central topic.

The New York Times wrote a blog post last Friday about a panel discussion at the forum on the role technology plays in philanthropy.  Hosted by the Victor Pinchuck Foundation, the program began with a discussion about "e-philanthropy," specifically mobile payments.  This technology has allowed donors to give small amounts of money to causes.  A good example of its importance was seen in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Alec Ross, a senior advisor on innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shared his experiences with mobile giving to the panel.  He said that the government put together a mobile giving program in the aftermath of the earthquake.  The program allowed donors to text the word "Haiti" to a specific number, which would send a $10 donation to relief efforts.  The program ended up raising $35 million in two weeks, completely shattering their expectations.

Although this program was successful, all the panelists agreed that one of the main problems with philanthropy is transparency; people want to have a better idea of where their money is going.  Sean Parker, founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, cited a nonprofit that he helped finance as an example of good transparency.  Charity Water, a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean drinking water around the world, developed online tools for their website that show donors how their money is being used.  Parker said that this kind of online fundraising should be adapted by all nonprofits to give donors a better sense of security.

Read more about this topic in The New York Times.

No comments: