Indiana University research explores digital philanthropy trends


Alliance magazine


The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has released a report, ‘Digital for Good’, examining technology-enabled giving and its implications for the future of philanthropy.

The report explored the use of new and evolving trends in philanthropy, including crypto donations, contactless giving, workplace giving, and online volunteering. The study analyzed data from eight different countries – Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, considering the unique cultural conditions of each country to identify insights at both national and global levels.

‘The emerging forms of giving highlighted in our report have the potential to help build the giving environment and propel philanthropy forward. The “Digital for Good” research series offers new insights for civil society leaders, philanthropists, regulators, scholars and the public who seek to understand and leverage them for greater social impact’, said Una Osili, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and International Programs.

A significant finding of the report was that five giving vehicles, several led by digital technology, had transformative potential: contactless giving, cryptocurrency giving, donor-advised funds (DAFs), impact investing, and workplace giving. Contactless giving accelerated during the pandemic, with the adoption of tap-and-donate technology. The report also found that crypto has begun to take hold as a means of giving in countries such as South Africa and South Korea. However, the volatility of the global cryptocurrency markets has led many to feel uncertain about the future of crypto giving.

The trends beyond digital ones included DAFs, which are growing in use and popularity around the world, and impact investing, which is well-established in India and the United Kingdom and rapidly growing in China, Africa, and South Korea. Workplace giving, another trend identified in the report, has significant potential to encourage a culture of giving, enhance employee engagement and support community needs.

These new trends have the potential to accelerate the development of new ways of giving – even beyond the modes identified, the report said. Pressing global crises, like climate change, displacement and forced migration, global health, and military invasions have the potential to lead to more cross-border philanthropy, the research hypothesised. And creativity with volunteering, such as virtual options for volunteers to donate their time, will change the way organisations engage with volunteers.

The Lilly School hopes that the report will function as a call to action for philanthropists, non-profit organizations, and governments to embrace the new trends and use them to increase social impact. It is based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read the full report here.

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