By Ed Gairdner, COO of The Good Exchange

In today’s digital era charitable organisations use many tools to help with charitable funding and fundraising, with different platforms able to support each stage of the funder or fundraiser’s journey. These are generally separate systems supplied by a variety of companies that each have their own associated processes and objectives.

To receive funds for a fundraising initiative, charitable organisations will likely first have completed and submitted a number of grant applications and tried to drive awareness and donations through fundraising events, content on the charity’s website and promotion via social media and on crowdfunding platforms. Larger charities and grant-giving organisations are also likely to have made use of financial management platforms, donor marketing solutions and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or grant management systems. Charitable Trusts and Foundations are also increasingly making use of online application forms, replacing some of the more arduous paper-based processes for applicants. This list doesn’t even include some of the newer technology options, such as making donations through contactless devices. Whilst it’s great to see increased take-up of technology in the charitable sector, integration between these different platforms is crucial to ensuring that fundraising is not hampered by a digital disconnect.

Indeed, all technologies used in charitable funding and fundraising should ideally work together for efficiency gains to be realised, rather than simply adding extra (unintended) layers of complexity. Used well, digital tools should also be introducing new opportunities for collaboration between like-minded organisations and individuals, which we believe is key to helping to close the funding gap in this country.

The good news is that online charitable giving platforms can act as ‘middle-men’ and enable greater integration. For instance, as an organisation, we recently introduced CRM sharing which allows grant-giving organisations such as charitable foundations or trusts to seamlessly extract the information entered by charitable causes seeking funding via our single application form into their own CRM or grant management systems cutting the need for manual data input. This additional data can then be used to enhance and streamline decision-making processes but at the same time enable them to maintain their own grant management and due diligence procedures.

Fundraisers also stand to benefit from an integrated approach to the technology many of us are using in our everyday lives already. We recently added WhatsApp sharing functionality that enables users to use the standard WhatsApp app on their phones (the fourth most-used social messaging platform in the UK, used by 84% of 25-34-year-olds, 80% of 18-24-year-olds and 78% of 35-44-year-olds) to drive donations and awareness. All that users of The Good Exchange need to do is to quickly and easily add a WhatsApp ‘share’ icon on their organisation and/or fundraising project page. Supporters can tap on the icon and instantly share the page, and therefore the cause, with friends and family via WhatsApp to encourage people they know to donate to their favourite good cause. 

When it comes to processing funds raised, fundraising platforms often connect with finance platforms, which in turn have to connect back to the charities receiving and paying out money. As well as being complicated, financial transactions almost always incur fees which impact the overall total available for charities to spend on good causes. A matching platform such as our own can minimise the cost of donation management, streamline processes and maximise the amount of money passed to charitable organisations. As well as driving down handling costs, automation and integration can also reduce human costs as people are required to spend less time on processing and administration, freeing up more time for delivering core charitable services to beneficiaries.

Traditional methods of fundraising are slow and can be frustrating at best but prohibitive at worst. It is important that the charitable sector stays up to date with, and takes advantage of, technological advancements and, even more important, that platform providers lead the way when it comes to innovation and integration. There is a myriad of tools available which, if used in harmony, will facilitate significant benefits, cut costs and contribute to the closing of the charitable funding gap.