Innovation, technology and the future of philanthropy

What does doing business like a Canadian mean for the philanthropic sector? Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) is creating a national dialogue around doing business like a Canadian with corporate Canada, and it has identified innovation as one of its Canadian business values. Innovation is not just key for business; technological innovation for non-profits is critical for their short-term success and long-term sustainability.  

While Canada may be one of the most generous countries by philanthropic giving trends, non-profits are being challenged on two fronts. First, there’s a sector challenge. The Thirty Years of Giving in Canadareport by the Rideau Hall Foundation and Imagine Canada states that the vehicles Canadians are using to give, and the causes they are giving to, are changing. Online giving is increasing, and digital strategies have become imperative to engage with a diverse constituent base. Blackbaud’s The Next Generation of Canadian Givingreport expands on these points and multichannel giving. 

The Blackbaud Index-Canadareports that donors are looking for more impact and transparency around their giving. Technological innovation can deliver on these expectations. In the report, Michael Johnston from Hewitt and Johnston Consultants also identifies a growing gap between small organizations that can’t afford technology versus the medium and large organizations that can innovate through technology.  

The second challenge is that corporations are innovating and becoming more sophisticated in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs while leveraging technology. This puts additional pressures on their non-profit partners to become strategic partners and deliver impact, outcomes, brand value and meaningful volunteer opportunities to funders. Large and some medium-sized non-profits have the resources required to integrate into a CSR program, but smaller organizations face a significant gap.

One could argue that regardless of the technology, it’s the supporters and the connection to a story that drive the giving vehicle, as seen through the growth of crowdfunding. The CanadaHelps 2018 Giving Reportspeaks to the $15-million raised following the tragic 2018 Humboldt bus accident. However, it also details that most people are unaware of the issues that arise when large sums of money are collected in these funds or how the money would be used, which we saw with the Humboldt fund. 

To overcome transparency, capacity and other challenges, organizations should consider moving to cloud computing. Those that do will experience rapid innovation at a lower cost compared to on-site solutions. Full solutions offer a more seamless and integrated experience, enabling increased transparency and efficiency. Technological innovation will drive the digital strategy and other daily operations, such as communications, fund development and finance, as well as deliver the programs that enable non-profits to serve their mission and vision, and do business like a Canadian.

 

Eric Saarvala is a social impact consultant. He is an adviser with CBSR and the founder of Impactalyst Consulting, a business specializing in corporate social responsibility and philanthropic services.

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BY ERIC SAARVALA

Technological innovation will drive the digital strategy and other daily operations, such as communications, fund development and finance, as well as deliver the programs that enable non-profits to serve their mission and vision, and do business like a Canadian.


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Tanya Camp