Two-thirds of charities surveyed believed that technology was quite or extremely important for the future of giving and volunteering. However, only one-fifth (20.1%) of respondents to the charity survey felt that they were currently using technology quite or extremely well.
Most organisations surveyed were engaging to some extent with these technologies, having at least a web page (76.6%) and/or social media presence (59.1%). Charities with paid staff or revenue of $100,000 or more had more capacity to engage in human resource-heavy forms of communication like updating websites and maintaining a social media presence.
Charities from the animal protection, law, advocacy and politics, international and culture and recreation sectors had the highest uptake of both websites and social media.
In terms of websites, only 46.8% reported the website was optimised for mobile technology, and even fewer (36.2%) could receive donations through their website. The purpose was primarily information hosting (96.3%), sharing news (71.3%) or promoting events (51.7%). Use of websites for more active management of operations, or appealing for specific items, was much less common.
Social media was viewed as being particularly important for advocacy-type organisations that were able to tap into news and current events. Like websites, most survey respondents using social media saw it as an information channel (92.7%) or for communication with members and supporters generally (79.2%), including promoting events (75.9%), rather than a means of transaction (7.1%). Qualitative participants felt the reasons for this could include difficulties converting past ‘asks’ on social media into tangible results. Consistency of social media posting was also mixed. While at least half of respondents updated their social media accounts at least several times per week, many posted relatively infrequently.
With the increased uptake of technology, focus group and interview participants felt that giving behaviours had become more collaborative, especially through the use of crowdfunding and peer-to peer fundraising. These platforms offered enormous benefits to donors and organisations according to participants. The collaborative, social element to peer-to-peer fundraising could help build a sense of connection among supporters with common interests. However, converting supporters of peer-to-peer fundraising events into regular donors was reported as particularly challenging. People may be interested in the event or supporting a friend, colleague or family member, but not necessarily as interested in the cause or the organisation behind the event.
To read the full reports and factsheets, go to https://www.communitybusinesspartnership.gov.au/about/research-projects/giving-australia-2016/