Charities go online to reach donors

With Singaporeans more generous than ever when giving through online channels, charities have begun innovating to embrace the connected generation.

From clicking for coupons, to "liking" a Facebook page and tapping an ez-link card - charities are trying to reach out to donors through innovative platforms.

Last Friday, the Community Chest (ComChest) launched a campaign in which all it takes to donate is to tap an ez-link card on billboards in MRT stations.

In March, Singapore-based start-up CLLIKE revamped its website, via which participating firms donate US$1 (S$1.25) each time the start-up helps attract a "like" on their Facebook page.

Then in October, Cliquefund entered the scene to help social enterprises - including one which helps blind potters here and another which generates income opportunities for under-privileged families - get access to crowdfunding.

It lets people buy coupons to redeem products made by these enterprises, for instance. But these coupons can be redeemed only after a certain number are sold.

Cliquefund chief executive Lindsey Yan said the website aims to help social enterprises reach out to a wider audience. "When people share about the campaign and encourage others to buy coupons as well, this turns customers into advocates," she said.

Through the website's first successful campaign, social enterprise See-No-Clay reached its goal of selling 10 coupons, at $50 each, within two weeks. Each coupon can be used to commission small sculptures made by potters with visual disabilities.

See-No-Clay director Alvin Yong said: "Supporters of our campaign become our friends in a sense, helping us to tell others about our work."

Already, online donation portals are reporting how they have been receiving more donations than ever. Singapore's largest online donation portal SG Gives raised a record $8.5 million last year, a 37 per cent jump from $6.2 million the year before. Run by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), it serves more than 270 charities.

ComChest, which serves 83 charities, received a record $820,000 in donations online last year, more than four times the amount five years ago.

This trend of online giving looks set to grow.

SG Gives, and are collaborating for the first time, to make this month the biggest ever for online donations. They also hope to raise over $390,000 tomorrow, set aside by NVPC as GivingTuesdaySG, to set a new single-day record.

NVPC director of philanthropy Patsian Low said: "As much of our lives are increasingly migrating online, so will charitable giving and fund raising."

SimplyGiving's chief executive Kristofer Rogers said that with many people wanting to "donate directly to appeals and projects", it is launching a "crowdfunding solution for non-profits" next year.

"Online giving is reaching an entirely new audience of supporters - a younger and more socially aware generation. For them, donating online is a shared experience that says to their friends 'I care, and so should you'."

For others, donating online is simply more convenient.

Mr Andy Chan, 39, who works in an investment firm, has been donating monthly through ComChest's website since 2007. He said: "Due to my busy schedule, I choose to donate online as the process is hassle-free."

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