Give a Little Bit

Fundraising by small individual gifts via new technology has expanded the world of philanthropy to anyone with a phone or a computer in the last few years.  The Obama campaign and the Haiti earthquake relief effort are striking examples.  A recently launched site, Philanthroper, scales down micro even more, limiting donations to the charity of the day to just a dollar.  Once you have an account, all you have to do is click.  Brilliant!  Who can argue with a $1, instant gratification good deed?

It’s not just hard to say no.  It’s tempting to say yes repeatedly.  Making it easy for people to give time or money not only recruits more donors, it lets them get into the habit of giving weekly or daily instead of relegating it to special occasions, and perhaps giving more over time that way (say, $365 a year).  It’s the same principle that has millions of people shelling out $1.99 for the Katy Perry single on their iPhones, but with a do-good spin.  Thus far, it’s tempting to check each day—Philanthroper is curating a nice little society of unique, creative organizations that can truly benefit from donations of a couple hundred dollars.

Philanthroper is by no means the first site to catch on to the inspirational effect of making philanthropy as easy as possible for would-be donors and volunteers.  Razoo and Sparked are a few examples among many others who have capitalized on it; the latter providing skills-based volunteer tasks that users can complete easily from home.  The social aspect helps too.  On Philanthroper and Razoo, you can see your donation go into the pot with other “philanthropers.”  The social side is certainly a huge factor in these companies’ success, but the hassle-free user experience is even more important, especially when you’re encouraging people to part with hard-earned money.

Using technology to make giving easier as well as social is a major step in philanthropy.  As we noted a few weeks ago, the more you do something, the easier it becomes.  If that’s true, Philanthroper and the legion of other innovative sites like it could be building a nation of habitual philanthropists.