Let’s talk philanthropy and technology.
Use of online technologies and social media was explored in the Philanthropy and philanthropists survey. Some 81.1% of survey respondents indicated their fund had a web presence. This was primarily used for:
- promotion/brand presence (86.4%)
- providing information on grants made/grantees (79.7%)
- providing the history of the fund (79.7%)
- providing details of board members/trustees (79.7%)
- outlining grantmaking criteria (74.6%)
- Sharing news (74.6%)
Participants noted that the philanthropic sector is drawing more on available technologies and data to communicate and collaborate, identify needs, match givers with recipients and enable giving. Examples included greater use of internet based communication technologies and social networking media to connect family members, directors/trustees and partnering organisations working across greater distances, whether this was connecting volunteers in rural or remote settings collaborating via Facebook, or overseas family members and philanthropic partners attending meetings via Skype. Indeed, 58.9% of funds used social media (primarily Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).
Participants also reported that the reach of social media and online technologies were changing awareness of where money can be given, how this can be done (for example, online) and who can be recruited to give or become an advocate of giving. There was recognition that online technologies and social media could be very effective in increasing access to relevant information and growing networks, but also that with this connectivity brings a level of risk, in that content created and shared by the network cannot be controlled.
As technologies and data become more accessible, there is a greater focus on process improvement and optimising use of available resources. Organisations are making more use of the available information and communication technologies, moving towards grants management software and utilising online applications for grants to provide efficiency improvements for both grantmakers and applicants. However this was still a relatively new phenomenon with three-quarters of funds surveyed not using grantmaking software. Some advocated greater use of technology in the philanthropic sector, but some expressed frustration at the absence of fit for purpose systems to support delivery, and felt that further improvements to the available technologies were needed before their adoption could provide greater effectiveness. Participants noted that technologies may open up more opportunities for younger or increasingly tech-savvy people to get involved with philanthropy and increase the capacity for philanthropists to connect with and learn from each other.
Despite the increasing uptake of social media, communication and donation technologies, preferences around their use still differed between individuals and participants noted that not everyone in the philanthropic sector would be interested or expert in using the available technologies. There was a strong sense that these do not necessarily replace approaches focused on personal contact.
To read the full reports and factsheets, go to https://www.communitybusinesspartnership.gov.au/about/research-projects/giving-australia-2016/