Technology is increasingly playing an important role in helping charities assist those in need. The impact on this sector is growing in a variety of ways, becoming more advanced each year.
- Fundraising with Virtual reality (VR)
Charity:Water helps bring clean water to communities around the world. During a gala dinner, attendees were provided virtual-reality headsets. The headsets enabled a 360-degree video experience of what it is like for people who have to collect water for their families to use each day. Donations exceeded all previous charity events. Charity:Water unequivocally attributed this success to the ability of VR to imbue a stronger feeling of empathy as compared to viewing a video played on a big screen.
The National Autistic Society designed a VR experience titled ‘Too Much Information’. The experience is designed to facilitate the public’s understanding of what it is like for a child with autism to walk around a typical mall. Users experience strange sharp sounds and distorted noises along with flashing lights. Even though it is not possible to perfectly simulate another’s experience, this use of VR helps to increase understanding and empathy between service users, the general public, and donors.
Technology is impacting charitable organizations by improving daily operations. Most of this is occurring through the use of apps by employees and volunteers to streamline administrative tasks.
A great example is the Steps app, used by Age UK. It provides support for staff as they interact with older individuals. Additionally, it facilitates comprehensive note taking, helping staff to create shareable action plans. For staff meetings and conferences, it suggests conversation topics. This results in the staff’s ability to provide comprehensive and thorough service, enhancing the relationships between the service users and staff.
Age UK has also incorporated an online chatbot into their website. The use of this chatbot has resulted in a 16-percent increase in unique users, 50-percent increase in volunteer sign-up conversions, and a 24-percent increase in repeat website users.
- Improving Situations Globally
Charities dedicated to helping people gain skills and access education to help them transition to and sustain a normal life are using technology to achieve their missions.
For example, Help Refugees gives smartphones to refugees known to be in dangerous situations. They also fund other non-profits, such as Code Your Future. Code Your Future helps teach refugees to become developers.
Another non-profit, Paper Airplanes, provides professional skills and peer-to-peer language supports to young people in North Africa and the Middle East who are affected by the ongoing conflicts. Through online communication platforms, such as Skype, Paper Airplanes brings education to those who would not otherwise be able to access expensive or long-distance training programs intended to help them to find employment opportunities.