Innovation in the charity sector initially related to how associations organized their donation campaigns. In a highly competitive sector, these campaigns are essential in order to collect the resources necessary for their operations from private individuals, companies, foundations, etc. and thereby increase their response capacities.
In the past 15 years, with the spread of the internet, companies have therefore put in place ever more innovative strategies to identify, attract and retain new donors.
“One of the challenges is to create ultra-efficient donor areas on websites, with a two-fold objective: to facilitate and secure online giving, as well as to put in place digital tools to increase donors’ loyalty. For example, we establish donation simulators to instantly calculate the amount after tax, systems for donating monthly or quarterly and web-marketing campaigns which are just as targeted as in the retail sector,”
… explains Matthieu Delemme, chairman of Ecedi, one of the web agencies specializing in online donations and a pioneer in the field.
Innovation does not only concern online donations, but also the way in which associations operate, organize themselves and intervene in the local communities they aim to help. The MasterCard Aid Network Program is a packaged solution offered to NGOs, to help them make the distribution of goods and food more reliable and efficient. Smart cards are distributed to local communities allowing them to access a pre-determined quantity (recorded on the smartcard) of goods, food or medication. The holders then simply visit merchants taking part in the program and choose the goods they want to collect using the terminal provided. This non-financial transaction is then validated using a PIN code. OT, a special partner of MasterCard, has contributed its smart cards to the project, for which the first pilots took place in 2015.
Consultancy firm Deloitte has meanwhile established a charitable innovation program to help the sector’s players become more efficient in all relevant areas, including logistics, crisis management, organization, communications, data analysis, etc. This initiative is based on the premise that charities should be run like any business and make the most of new technologies. As a final example, Visa and NetHope (a consortium of more than 40 charities) have teamed up to develop the Visa Innovation Grants Program, designed to help modernize and improve the organization of money transfers and particularly to develop electronic payments, which are more secure and easier to manage than cash during large-scale humanitarian operations. During the major flooding in Pakistan in 2010, Visa and the government organized the distribution of pre-paid cards to 2.5 million affected families, allowing them to meet their most urgent needs more rapidly.
Electronic payments, internet and mobile phones – new technologies are constantly transforming the world and humanitarian action is no exception. By facilitating better dissemination of information, these technologies have significant potential to improve the efficiency of aid work. Meanwhile, social networks – which have become an entirely new type of tool for the sector – provide charities with real-time information on the latest developments and allow them to monitor news. This positions communities at the heart of the action in a proactive way, rather than simply as aid recipients. By giving a voice to communities in crisis, these technologies provide opportunities to refine the humanitarian response, to effectively adapt it to needs on the ground and ensure that interventions are a success.