PayPal reports 11 percent growth in charitable giving in 2016

PayPal reported an 11 percent growth in charitable giving for 2016. Last year, the global payment platform processed $7.3 billion in donations.

During the holiday season alone, PayPal users contributed $971 million. From November 27 though the New Year, PayPal tracked holiday giving behavior around the world. Nearly 8 million PayPal users in 181 countries donated$971,213,604 to 282,053 charities. The largest single gift during this period was more than $230,000, while the average contribution was $93. The average contribution for the year was $89.

The top five countries that gave the most were, in order, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

According to PayPay, more donations were processed on December 31 than on any other day in the year, with contributions to charities totaling $77,896,580 that day. December 30 was the second highest day for donations at $59,625,454. #GivingTuesday, which occurred on November 29th in 2016, ranked as the third highest day, with over $48 million donated. 

Mobile giving also increased in 2016, with 21 percent of users making donations on a mobile device, a 12 percent increase from 2015.

“PayPal’s mission is all about democratizing financial services for citizens across the world. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in the power of our global payments platform to create a worldwide network that allows people to support their communities and the causes they’re most passionate about,” said Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal. “We are thankful for the generosity that our PayPal users showed this past holiday season. We look forward to another year of innovation around new services and capabilities so that all of us can continue to make a positive impact in every community around the world that PayPal helps to serve.”

Facebook announces new tools for fundraising, social good efforts

At its first Social Good Forum in New York last Thursday, Facebook unveiled new fundraising tools and community safety updates.

The social media platform announced that it would be expanding its Fundraisers tool to now allow users to raise money for more than 750,000 nonprofits.

The majority of 501(c)(3) organizations in the U.S. will be covered by the expansion with the exception of some small organizations and chapters, although organizations left out of the partnership can still request approval from Facebook, Mashable reports.

Facebook also announced the option to add a donate button to Live videos and posts. The buttons will link to a nonprofit’s Facebook page, where people can learn more about the cause and make a donation.

The social network said that it will be improving Safety Check, which was launched in 2014 and allows Facebook users to let family and friends know they’re okay during a disaster or crises. Instead of being triggered by Facebook, the feature will now be triggered by the community.

In a Newsroom post, Vice president of social good Naomi Gleit wrote:

“Initially, Facebook decided when Safety Check was activated, but our goal has always been to make it more useful for people for more types of incidents. We believe people closest to a disaster should play a bigger role in deciding when Safety Check is most helpful. So today, Safety Check will be turned on by our community instead of Facebook. When a lot of people post about an incident from the affected area, they may be asked if they’re safe. Once marked safe, a person can then invite friends to do the same.”

Community Help, a new feature that will make its debut in 2017, will allow users to seek or offer help, including shelter, food and supplies after a natural disaster.

“In addition to using Facebook to let people know they’re safe after a disaster event, people also use Facebook to get the information and help they need to stay safe and rebuild. This spring we saw this in the aftermath of the fires in Fort McMurray, Canada, when people took to Facebook to help one another find a place to stay. Next year, we’re making these connections even easier with Community Help, a place where people can give and get help for things like shelter, food and supplies. After a natural disaster, someone can check in as safe and also ask for and offer help to those around them.”

Facebook also announced its partnership with two nonprofits during the holiday season.

In honor of the fifth anniversary of #GivingTuesday on November 29, Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will together contribute up to $1 million to Facebook fundraisers. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $500,000 in matching funds, up to $1,000 per Facebook fundraiser, while Facebook will waive standard processing fees on all donations, up to $500,000.

Facebook’s partnership with men’s cancer organization Movember will also continue through the end of November. Individuals can sync their Movember.com and Facebook fundraising efforts, allowing users to collect donations through both.

“Facebook has always been about building community and relationships,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a video. “We’re going to keep finding new ways to empower our community through technology and services in a way that’s effective.”

Fidelity Charitable Ranks No. 1 on 2016 Philanthropy 400 list

Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund has topped the list of this year’s Philanthropy 400, The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual ranking of the 400 largest charities. The charities are ranked based on how much is raised from private sources. This is the first time a charity focused on donor-advised funds has taken over the top spot on the list.

The 25-year-old Boston-based charity knocked United Way Worldwide, founded in 1887, from the No.1 spot it has held for all but one year since the list debuted in 1991. (The Salvation Army topped the list in 2006.)

“You never have that kind of a huge vault in the charity world, where a young charity does so well,” Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fidelity, a nonprofit “spinoff” of Fidelity Investments, collected $4.6 billion in 2015, a 20 percent increase from the year before, while United Way saw a 4 percent drop in donations to $3.7 billion.

Donor-advised funds, which some have likened to a charitable savings account, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

The account is set up at a public charity, like Fidelity Charitable, and while the money can’t be withdrawn, the donor is allowed to retain some control over how the money is invested.

Donors get a tax deduction when they make a contribution; however, there is no deadline for distributing the funds. Donors can even bequeath control of the fund to their children.

Critics of the funds argue that the money would be better put to use more quickly instead of possibly languishing in an account for years. Also, funds often have to pay out fees to wealth management companies, such as Fidelity Investments, for managing the money, reports The Washington Post.

“There is a potential problem with so much money going to donor-advised funds and delaying when it actually reaches charities that are helping families and communities,” said Aaron Dorfman, chief executive of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Says Boston College law Professor Ray Madoff: “These things afford tremendous tax benefits to donors and financial benefits to the sponsoring organizations. The problem is, this isn’t why we have charitable tax benefits. The reason we have them is to encourage the flow of dollars to organizations engaged in charitable work.”

However, donor-advised funds and even some traditional charities argue that these fund encourage more giving by offering donors greater flexibility. They also point out that the money does eventually go to charity.

Pam Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable, says the popularity of donor-advised funds has increased because they make giving more accessible. She adds that Fidelity Charitable monitors accounts and encourages regular contributions from donors.

According to Norley, Fidelity has strived to make online-giving transaction painless for donors.

"A lot of what [donor-advised funds] have brought to charities and our donors is really technology," she says. "It’s an intermediary between the donor and charity that allows the process of giving to be simpler and more transparent and easier for record-keeping."

Brian Gallagher, president of United Way Worldwide, says his organization has no problem with donor-advised funds; in fact, United Way itself receives some donations via donor-advised funds.

“If it’s a convenient vehicle for individuals to give to charitable causes, and we’re a recipient of that, we’re good with that,” he said of the funds. “We don’t see ourselves as competitive with Fidelity.”

Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer told ABC News that she expects donor-advised funds will continue to expand.

"There is a transformation going on in how donors give," she said. "It means donors have a lot more control over their donations than if they just write a check to United Way."

Feeding America, which supplies most of the country’s food banks, came in third on the list's top five, followed by Schwab Charitable, another donor-advised fund, and Catholic Charities USA.

2016 Social Good Summit to be held September 18-19

The 2016 Social Good Summit will be held on September 18-19 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Confirmed panelists for this year’s conference include comedian Chelsea Handler; Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme; Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; singer/songwriter Cody Simpson; actor and advocate Alec Baldwin; film star and business woman Preity Zinta, currently serving on the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council; actress and UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador Connie Britton, and more.

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference that examines the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world.

The theme for the summit, which is hosted by Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and the 92nd Street Y, asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

Tickets for the summit can be purchased here.

Fidelity Charitable releases 2016 Giving Report

According to the recently released 2016 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report, last year's nonprofit donors were strongly motivated to give to charities providing relief for world emergencies, such as the earthquake in Nepal and the Syrian refugee crisis, and to charities funding medical research and healthcare.

The report analyzes the giving patterns and impact of Fidelity Charitable’s 132,000 donors. Fidelity Charitable, which is based in Boston, is an independent public charity with one of the largest donor-advised fund programs. It is also the country’s second largest grantmaker after the Gates Foundation. Since its beginnings 25 years ago, the fund has distributed $22 billion to 106,000 nonprofits. Last year, more than 80,000 accounts gave a total $3.1 billion to charities.

Released on June 2, the fourth annual report revealed that donor were motivated primarily by immediate relief efforts; social giving efforts, such as charity walks; and organizations focused on healthcare and medical research. Reflecting the trend to donate to organizations providing direct relief for global crises, UNICEF saws a 38 percent increase in the number of donors supporting them, and Oxfam noticed a 35 percent increase.

The report also examined the difference between philanthropists who use donor-advised funds (DAFs) and those who don’t, showing that DAFs donors offer more support for more charities than those who do not use donor-advised funds.

According to the survey, over 70 percent of Fidelity Charitable donors give more than $10,000 a year compared to 42 percent of similarly affluent donors who do not use DAFs. Also, 85 percent of DAFs philanthropists support six or more nonprofits, compared to 36 percent of donors surveyed who do no use DAFs.

“Fidelity Charitable donors support an extraordinary range of organizations, with more than 106,000 nonprofits receiving grants last year,” says Amy Danforth, president of Fidelity Charitable. “While most who give have organizations and causes that they support year-in and year-out, those who use donor-advised funds have a dedicated account for charitable giving, which enables them not only to provide ongoing support to their favorite charitable causes, but also to more easily and quickly respond to meet new needs as they emerge.”

Other findings show that:

  • Two-thirds of donor contribution dollars to Fidelity Charitable were non-cash assets.
  • 60 percent of their donors contributed appreciated assets to Fidelity Charitable last year.
  • 82 percent of their donors engaged others in the decision-making process around their giving.
  • 62 percent of their retired donors are confident about their ability to give in the future.
  • 92 percent of donations allocated to Giving Accounts at Fidelity Charitable are distributed to charities within 10 years of receipt.

2016 M+R Benchmarks Study Released Today

The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study, which examines online fundraising, advocacy and organizing for nonprofits, has been released and is ready for free download.

Published by M+R and the Nonprofit Technology Network, the 10th annual report analyzed 105 nonprofits of various sizes and sectors, 2.8 billion emails, and 69.4 million subscribers. 

The study revealed that online revenue grew by 19 percent last year, up from a 12 percent growth in 2014. Monthly giving, which the study shows is growing faster than one-time giving, accounted for 17 percent of all online revenue.

Email open rates, click-through rates and response rates all declined in 2015; however, email fundraising grew 25 percent, accounting for 29 percent of all online revenue for the year. The report says that continuing list growth and volume (more people; more messages) explain the increase in email revenue despite the fall in email engagement. For every 1,000 fundraising email delivered last year, nonprofits received $44 in donations, an average of $0.44 cents for every email. Groups sent an average of 49 messages in 2015.

The study showed that of the $481 million in online donation raised by leading nonprofits last year, 13 percent were made from mobile devices.

And although social media is an important tool for nonprofits, many organizations are not allocating as much of their resources to social strategies as they should. The top 25 organizations with the largest online revenue growth invested $0.12 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online; the rest of the groups invested $0.02.

For every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. The report showed that the nonprofits surveyed saw an average of 29 percent growth of support on Facebook over the year and a 25 percent growth of support on Twitter.

NTEN is holding a free webinar on the report on April 26. Click here for more information.

Is Virtual Reality the Next Big Thing in Fundraising?

Virtual reality has been receiving a lot of attention lately — could the technology become a useful tool for nonprofits?

Immersive storytelling through VR, which places audiences directly into an experience or event, is on the rise, and is already being used to shed light on multiple world issues. Now, some nonprofits are looking at VR as a potential marketing tool that can bring awareness to their cause and attract donors.

Last year, Amnesty International launched a virtual reality street fundraising campaign, transporting Londoners to the streets of war-torn Aleppo in Syria using VR viewers. Amnesty reported a strong emotional response from the public and said the organization saw a 16 percent increase in donations.

“The headsets are so immersive because you can’t help draw comparisons between the street you’re in and the street you see,” said Nina Franklin, one of Amnesty’s street fundraisers.

“The VR sets anchor everything: statistics, emotions, stories. Suddenly everything ‘over there’ is so vivid and real. That’s the power of VR.”

More and more organizations seem to be exploring the potential of the technology. The United Nations launched its first VR film at the 2015 World Economic Forum to highlight the plight of a young Syrian girl living in a refugee camp, while Charity:Water used VR headsets at their 10th annual charity gala to transport their NYC guests to Ethiopia and into the shoes of a 13-year-old girl who has to walk several hours to get water.

VR has increasingly become an effective way to garner empathy and promote social good. Immersive journalist and virtual reality pioneer Nonny de la Peña debuted her first VR piece, Hunger in Los Angeles, in 2012. The story dealt with the true story of a diabetic’s collapse due to starvation while waiting in line at a food bank. Her newest work Project Syria places views in the middle of a terrorist bombing.

“This is such a visceral empathy generator. It can make people feel in a way that nothing, no other platform I've ever worked in can successfully do in this way,” De la Peña told Engadget.

David Darg is the co-founder of Los Angeles-based Ryot, a content studio that creates documentary-style VR films, all which feature a call to action. Ryot’s VR film The Nepal Quake immerses viewers in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. At the end of the video, the viewer is invited to visit the Nepal Quake Project website to make a donation to relief efforts.

"You register it as an experience that you have rather than something that you watch, so you have a higher level of empathy for what you're seeing," Darg told NPR.

Although the VR market is still very small, it certainly appears primed to make a move into mainstream consumer culture very soon. In late 2015, The New York Times released a virtual reality mobile app that can be used with the Google Cardboard viewer to experience content such as The Displaced, about children driven from their homes due to war, and The Contenders, about the presidential campaign. Both Oculus and Sony are set to release high-end consumer headsets this year, and even Mattel has said it will soon be out with an update to their inexpensive VR View-Master. Last month, it was revealed that Apple has created a new VR research team, and this week’s TED Conference will feature several talks and exhibits on the technology.

A recent report from Tractica has projected that more than 200 million VR headsets will be sold worldwide by 2020.

Ken Harper, the director of the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement at Syracuse University, told NPR that once virtual reality goes mainstream, corporations, nonprofits, and media organizations will no doubt jump on board, many using the technology to sell a product or promote a cause.

VR technology could also potentially be a means to demonstrate an organization’s impact. Access Youth Academy Development Director Ryan Ginard writes on TechSoup: “In 10 years’ time, you might be uploading a VR video online along with your grant application as one of the initial steps of an assessment of your suitability for operational and programmatic support.”

 

 

Nonprofit Watsi raises $3.5m “philanthropic growth round” by applying tech start up principles

Watsi, a nonprofit crowdsourcing site that allows individual donors to fund medical treatments for people around the world, is getting attention for applying tech startup principles and tactics to run its philanthropic organization.

“It's crazy that there are huge engineering teams figuring out how we can add a different filter to our photos, but there are so few people using the Internet and technology to bring education or health care to the world," Chase Adam, who founded the San Francisco-based nonprofit in 2012, told Entrepreneur.

Adam was inspired to start the social venture while he was serving in the Peace Corps in Central America. According to the Watsi website, a woman boarded a bus he was on and asked for donations to pay for her child’s healthcare. The organization gets its name from the town he was traveling through at the time.

Instead of following the typical nonprofit model of constant fundraising, the organization has operated more like a start-up by raising a large amount of money upfront. This approach has enabled the group to raise a $3.5 million growth round of donations from foundations and philanthropists, which will support the Watsi’s operations and improvements to technology. While the organization’s overhead costs are covered by these funds, all crowdfunded donations go entirely to patients.

Watsi has recruited top engineers to improve its platform and is looking to hire more. Visitors to the website can view patients’ profiles and donate to fund individual people and procedures. Donors receive an update after the patient receives treatment. To date, more than 14,200 people have funded healthcare for more than 5,600 patients in 20 developing countries.

On the backend, Techcrunch.com reports, Watsi’s next step is building a platform that will provide an electronic medical record where care providers can upload and manage patient data. The group is also working to create a streamlined system and time line to measure healthcare procedures and results and to help the organization to perform “ongoing due diligence.”

In 2013, Watsi became the first nonprofit accepted by Y Combinator, the elite Bay Area seed accelerator, which provides support to early stage startup businesses. Former graduates of Y Combinator’s competitive three-months program include Reddit and Dropbox.

Adam told Entrepreneur magazine that he would like the nonprofit sector to take technology more seriously.

The Internet, he says, "is the best tool we've ever developed as humans," and while the majority of for-profit startups understand this, "the nonprofits that are solving some of the most important problems in the world – that are trying to save lives and provide education – are not adopting it fast enough. It's insane to me."

He says he does not necessarily blame traditional nonprofits. "If you've been operating non-technically for 20 years, how do you incorporate technology in an effective way? You can't just sprinkle it on top," he says. "You have to change how you think about problems and how you solve them."

Sixth annual Social Good Summit to be held September 27-28

The sixth annual Social Good Summit will be held September 27-28 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The theme of this year’s Social Good Summit is #2030NOW: New Goals: New Tech. New Power. Participants, including world leaders and grassroots activists, will explore how technology and new media can be used to address important global issues. The event is hosted by Mashable, 92nd Street Y, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme.

The continuing #2030NOW theme asks the question: “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

Speakers for the two day conference, which is held during UN Week, include: Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation; Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable; Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; Richard Curtis, Director, Writer, Producer and Founder of Project Everyone; Adrian Grenier, Actor, Entrepreneur, Dell Social Good Advocate; Vivienne Harr, Philanthropist, Activist and Chief Inspiration Officer at STAND; Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on post-2015 Development Planning; Trisa Thompson, Chief Responsibility Officer at Dell; Henry Timms, Executive Director of the 92Y; Charlize Theron, Actress and UN Messenger of Peace; Sienna Miller, actress and International Medical Corps Global Ambassador; Hugh Evans, CEO of the Global Poverty Project; Kweku Mandela, Co-founder of the Africa Rising Foundation.

More speakers are to be announced.

People around the world can connect to the event through live streams in seven different languages and in-person or online meet ups. Global meet-up locations exist in over 65 countries. Follow the events on social media with the hashtag #2030Now.

Tickets for the Social Good Summit are available here. For more information go to the Social Good Summit website.

Socially-conscious mobile carrier The People’s Operator launches in US

A new mobile carrier that lets you use your cellphone for social good has just launched in the U.S.

The People’s Operator (TPO), a U.K.-based company that automatically donates 10 percent of every customer’s phone bill to charity, is now available stateside.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who became chairman of TPO in 2014, spearheaded the launch.

The provider has partnered with organizations such as The World Wildlife Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project, but subscribers can donate their 10 percent to any valid 501c organization.

TPO, which also gives a quarter of its annual profits to charity, makes the charitable donations at no extra cost to its customers.

"We don't do any of the kinds of heavy advertising that all the other cellphone providers do," Wales told Mashable. "Instead of sticking with your current provider, which will spend more than 10% of your money on more TV commercials, you can switch to us. We'll spend it on something you care about, and all we ask in return is to recruit other people ... to raise money for whatever you love.”

The carrier currently offers seven tiers of plans. The plans start at $9 per month for 250 minutes, 250 texts and no data, and goes up to an unlimited talk and text with 11 GB of data for $89.

TPO operates as a mobile virtual network operator, which means it relies on a local carrier to provide the technical infrastructure. In the U.S., TPO is powered by Sprint.

Along with the mobile service, the company has also introduced an ad-free social network TPO.com, where people can follow charities and causes and donate to causes on the site. The network gives non-profit organizations a platform through which they can easily collect donations for minimal cost.

"With the previous generation of giving platforms, the cut they take is really high," says Mark Epstein, CEO of TPO, according to FastCompany.com. "We're going to literally only cover the bank fees. Far more of the money is going to be going to the cause. We're not going to be taking anything."

Wales told Tech City News: “We wanted to provide a way for people to connect with both their friends and the causes they care about in an ad-free social space that works for them.

“The TPO Community brings these together so that members can learn more about causes, follow them, donate and share their support with their friends.”