Marc Andreessen, who co-founded Netscape (remember? it was likely your first web browser), and now a leading venture capitalist, coined the phrase “software eats the world” to reflect the power of technology to transform sector after sector. Philanthropy is getting the ‘tech treatment’ as well and various facets of philanthropy are being impacted, some in very significant ways.

Specifically, in our research for a client, we identified ten ways in which technology is creating new opportunities for the philanthropic sector which can be grouped in three categories: transforming discovery and relations, making giving frictionless and enabling new giving models.

Donors are increasingly eager to fund effective and impact-oriented organizations while developing more intense relations with the organizations they support, moving from a yearly update to a more continuous stream of interactions. There are three sub-trends here:

  • More extensive use of data when making fundraising decisions and increased accountability through data transparency sites such as Charity Navigator or GuideStar, as well as impact-oriented ranking sites such as GiveWell
  • The creation of more intense and personalized connections with donors through philanthropic customer relation management systems such as Kindest, Kindful or NetworkForGood
  • Philanthropic portals enabling anyone to build their own “personal giving fund” such as GoodNation or MyTzedakah. These have massive potential to develop into one-stop giving sites combining access to information, nonprofit discovery, 1-1 interactions with nonprofits and social media features (e.g., replicating a friend or celebrity’s giving portfolio)

The third and most exciting category of trends enables new approaches that simply wouldn’t be possible without technological support:

  • Workplace philanthropy platforms such as BrightFunds build on the increased corporate social trend in many of the world’s largest enterprises and enables them and their employees to deploy their charitable resources, be it money or time.
  • Philanthropic mutual funds such as Blue Meridian or EPIC, like financial mutual funds, invest significant resources to research hundreds of nonprofits in a particular sector – and to select the most worthy ones according to their criteria.
  • Volunteering platforms such as Tribu or VolunteerMatch enable nonprofits to quickly recruit dozens of volunteers to join their ranks – and inversely anyone can select the nonprofit most corresponding to their volunteering wishes.

Read the full article about how technology impacts philanthropy by Michael Bloch at eJewish Philanthropy.