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As consumers go digital, so do charities

There are multiple options making it easier for people to give, with the convenience of just a few clicks

A decade ago, there was no such thing as a Revolut app. Now there is, with setting that allows users to round up and donate the spare change every time they use their card. It is a way of giving to charity that simply did not exist before, but now, people are giving multiple times a day, from that morning cappuccino to a pint after work, without even thinking about it. Little and often adds up.

That is just one of myriad convenient, technology-driven ways that have opened up for individuals to donate money charities. From crowdfunding campaigns, virtual events, or simply having a donation button on the organisation’s website or social media pages, there are multiple digital options making it easier for people to give, with the convenience of just a few clicks.

Online fundraising became a lifeline for many charities during the pandemic, when valuable income from fundraising events and street collections dwindled to nothing. But in today’s technology-driven world, the impetus to pivot online also opened their eyes to all these new possibilities.

Moreover, online fundraising can complement traditional channels by helping to reach a broader audience and providing data insights on donor behaviour, preferences and trends which can help charities optimise their future fundraising strategies.


Seán Bergin, national fundraising manager for Barnardos, says using digital platforms to show the impact of the organisation’s work to reach a wider audience is a very important tool. “Utilising effective means of storytelling has become vitally important, as is investing in people,” Bergin says.

However, competing for technology talent can be challenging in the current employment market for charities with limited budgets.

“Ensuring the sector has the right skill sets across teams is more important than ever, especially in an employee market. This can be difficult – especially in the areas of IT and data analysis where much higher-paying roles are available in the large multinationals,” Bergin explains.

The investment is important to them though, as digital platforms allow charities to engage people with impactful storytelling, as they found out during the pandemic when in-person events shutdown.

“With those changes, new opportunities arose for engagement and messaging across digital platforms, crucially allowing us to showcase the tangibility of our work which ordinarily, people may not have been aware of,” Bergin says.

With the shift now firmly back to real-world events, he says online events have declined, but their eyes have been opened to the possibilities of leveraging digital platforms. “We have gained a wider reach digitally from that initial growth, as our message and storytelling caught the attention of more busy eyes,” Bergin says.

At Focus Ireland the team also had to adapt to delivering fundraising initiatives in the digital realm with virtual events and social media campaigns during the pandemic.

“While the unpredictability of the pandemic made it challenging to plan our fundraising strategies effectively, it did challenge us to embrace digital fundraising more quickly, and we invested our efforts in online giving platforms and digital marketing,” recalls Amy Carr, director of fundraising and marketing at Focus Ireland.

“The importance of online giving platforms and digital marketing became critical during the pandemic and this trend is likely to continue as we blend old and new.”

However, with an increased appetite for in-person gatherings post-pandemic, there has been a renewed interest in in-person fundraising events, such as musicians and choirs performing in Irish Rail stations as part of the Big Busk for Focus Ireland, and the Shine A Light sleep out events where workplaces, clubs, schools, and whole communities come together to sleep out against homelessness.

“While the return of in-person events is a positive sign of better times ahead, we have transformed the way we engage our fundraising efforts to be more inclusive and far reaching,” says Carr.

“With online platforms, supporters from across the country can participate in fundraisers and we are no longer confined to geographic restrictions. We also embraced the concept of empowering individuals to host their own fundraising events and we incorporate a ‘host your own’ element to each of our campaigns, where suitable. By embracing technology and social media, as well as empowering individuals, we aim to increase the opportunities to engage with Focus Ireland and support in our mission to end homelessness.”