Canadian charities look to leverage technology to reach millennials

VANCOUVER - A group of 20-somethings flew from Vancouver to El Salvador earlier this month to build new homes for agricultural families displaced by flooding.

See Full Article

Their materials included wood, fibre cement and, most importantly, Snapchat.

The millennials used the popular video-messaging app to record heartfelt donation requests, and then fanned them out to their social networks. In short order, each had crowdfunded the $3,000 required per home for the 20 families.

The innovative fundraising method that leverages several technologies was developed by a Vancouver technology startup called Change Heroes.

It's just one of several ventures by British Columbia-based tech companies that are turning philanthropy on its head. They're doing it by tapping the hard-to-reach millennial demographic using the digital medium that dominates their lifestyle.

"It's thinking totally outside of the box," said Taylor Conroy, CEO of Change Heroes.

By using the tools young adults communicate with, in this case personal, one-to-one video messages, more than 50 per cent of those asked made donations. The average donation was $250.

"It's the highest converting fundraising platform on the planet, it's way higher than a person on a street, a black-tie dinner or golf tournament," Conroy said.

Charities are facing challenges these days raising donations from younger donors, and the void is especially apparent during the season of giving.

The cost associated with persuading people to give to charities has jumped over the past five years from $150 per donor to upwards of $800 each, Conroy said.

"Non-profits are in absolute crisis right now because of the shift from baby boomers to millennials," he said.

Millennials represent a vast potential donor base. The problem is that traditional charities don't know how to connect, say the experts.

It's not correct that millennials don't give, said John Bromley, who has spent a decade working with charities.

"(Millennials) are so web-fluent that they live online - and charities don't," said Bromley, CEO and founder of Chimp, a technology-driven public foundation that facilitates gifts to other charities.

Chimp gives users a free online bank account to specifically manage their charitable donations. It helps people give money to any registered charity in Canada, to pass money to a friend to give away, or, to organize groups who want to pool cash and give socially.

Many charities don't have sophisticated websites that attract the advanced web user, Bromley said. Millennials instead gravitate to crowdfunding platforms that specifically target them, like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

But they don't realize that donating directly to a friend's cause is more altruism than charity, he said. They may encounter trouble in the unregulated system that lacks checks and balances - and will also miss out on tax receipts.

Rather than be stingy, Bromley predicts millennials are becoming even more generous than previous generations because their online capabilities mean they are hyper-aware of problems across the globe.

"Everyone in the world wants change and has something to give," he said.

Technology also allows non-profits to focus on their core competencies, rather than spend resources putting on elaborate events to extract donations, said Shafin Diamond Tejani, a director with the Vancouver branch of Social Venture Partners.

The costs of soliciting donors also plummets as non-profits transition to online campaigns and donor management systems - away from expensive mailouts, TV commercials and third-party sidewalk canvassers.

Tejani is also CEO of Fantasy 6, a firm with expertise in mobile gaming that's benevolently using online fantasy sports to fundraise using its foothold with 18 to 34 year olds.

"You might have a good message, but won't succeed without the ability to hit this new audience that has access to so many choices," Tejani said of the copious options for giving.

"It's really working with a charity to equip them to take advantage of all these things."

But can good acts be done by companies seeking profits?

Conroy with Change Heroes said the charity model is broken when good only counts if it comes from a non-profit that must squeeze every penny and avoid all risk.

He believes for-profit tech firms and non-profits can work together.

"Think Facebook, think Instagram, think of these companies that have been able to scale 100-times, 1000-times in one year because they're leveraging technology," he said.

"What we're doing is leveraging technology - but we're leveraging it for the benefit of humanity."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Artificial intelligence will tell you what you want, and you will listen: Don Pittis

    Economic CBC News
    It may seem crazy, but the world's biggest retailer is working on a scheme to use artificial intelligence to decide what you will want to buy before you've decided to buy it and send it to your home. AI, after years lurking in the background, is about to get significantly more intrusive. Source
  • Hydro One's planned merger with U.S. energy firm Avista passes another hurdle

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Hydro One Ltd. and Avista Corp. say their proposed merger has cleared another hurdle in the U.S. The two companies say the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has completed a review of the deal and found no unresolved national security concerns. Source
  • Asian markets drop despite Wall Street gains

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING - Asian markets were mostly lower Tuesday after Wall Street gained as Italy moved toward forming a euroskeptic-led government. KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.2 per cent to 3,208.20 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.7 per cent to 6,039.20. Source
  • Anxiety lands as WestJet pilot strike looms

    Economic CBC News
    Dana Sorensen booked a WestJet flight from her home in Vancouver to Calgary, where she's racing in the upcoming ultra-marathon. But the anxiety of a looming pilots' strike was too much to bear. She paid for another flight on a different airline, a peace of mind that cost her an extra $500. Source
  • Banks poised to report strong Q2 despite housing slowdown: analysts

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canada's biggest banks are upping the ante in the mortgage wars amid slowing growth and national housing sales at lows not seen in several years, but analysts say real estate market woes won't dent lenders' earnings, just yet. Source
  • Insider Q&A: Should investors worry about 'peak earnings?'

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Speaking about a peak suddenly made stocks weak. Investors got a rude awakening in April when executives at Caterpillar said the construction and mining equipment company didn't expect to top its first-quarter profit for the rest of the year. Source
  • From airlines to pizza parlours, EU businesses adopt data law

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- Lisa Meyer's hair salon is a cozy place where her mother serves homemade macaroons, children climb on chairs and customers chat above the whirr of hairdryers. Most of the time Meyer is focused on hairstyles, colour trends and keeping up with appointments. Source
  • China says it can't guarantee no more trade tension with U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's government said Monday it cannot guarantee that renewed trade tension with Washington can be avoided after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared a temporary truce in a spiraling dispute that prompted worries of a chilling of global commerce. Source
  • Trump pulls back from brink of trade war with China

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday hailed his administration's temporary truce with China on trade, even as his Treasury secretary and China struck a note of caution on the latest agreement. After high-level talks in Washington last week, Beijing has agreed to "substantially reduce" America's trade deficit with China. Source
  • Oregon's flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale: economists

    Economic CBC News
    As marijuana farmers in Oregon say a flood of supply is killing their businesses less than three years after recreational cannabis was legalized, economists say it's a warning to Canada. Stephen Easton, professor of economics at Simon Fraser University and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, says large fluctuations in price and supply are bound to happen when you create a legal market where an illegal market already exists. Source