The digital revolution and the use of Artificial intelligence (AI) opened new horizons for philanthropy. Digital technologies are used throughout the lifecycle of fundraising: starting from promoting the beneficiary organization or cause, identifying the target groups, storing their data, reaching out to them and processing the donation. AI - intended as machine-learning algorithms - and automated decision-making in general can help fundraisers to identify and reach out to specific segment of audience, craft the messaging in a particular way pertinent to the audience, communicate through chat bots and run campaigns across borders in a cost-effective manner. The back end and Google Analytics allow us to monitor click through and open rates, customer reactions and choices and craft customized messages relevant to them. Fundraisers can utilize new digital platforms such as robo-advisories. Hundreds of charities accept voice donation on Alexa. Investor Dashboard can make a long-term impact and help to navigate the philanthropic journey.

New trends related to money have a major impact on fundraising, too. The decentralized finance, such as the use of cryptocurrencies, eliminates financial intermediaries and facilitates peer-to-peer networks. Civil society organizations (CSOs) such as WWF and UNICEF , already accepts bitcoin donations. The COVID-19 pandemic further amplified the role of virtual money and online transfers.

The pandemic also forced CSOs to move offline fundraising to the online world. We have seen inspiring examples of organizing gala dinners and walkathons online.

Donation-based non-investment crowdfunding platforms or on-line giving and digital fundraising represent the monetary segment of the alternative fintech industry which utilizes digital technologies including the AI for social good. The size of the global donation-based crowdfunding market in 2018 is estimated at 639 mil. EUR . Crowdfunding platforms besides mobilizing financial resources for social good contribute to greater transparency and connectedness of donors with beneficiaries by directly connecting backers of projects with social innovators bypassing sometimes opaque or untransparent intermediaries and simplifying the access to funding. At the same time crowdfunding campaigns may create an illusion that non-profits or civic initiatives can go along without overheads, strategic planning or research, which the crowdfunding fundraising typically omits to include.

However, the application of digital technology for social good is not limited to giving and fundraising in monetary terms only. There is a growing realm of nonmonetary giving using digital technology through crowdsourcing online platforms that leverage the monetary giving with the in-kind gifts, skilled or unskilled volunteering time, microvolunteering with simple tasks6, giving expertise, advice, engaging in problem solving, gathering of information or even formulating strategic direction. It is a part of the decentralized digital crowdsourcing landscape for social good which along to decentralized, platform-based resource mobilization systems uses also new organizational forms, collaborative approaches and innovative data management.

The climate change has been raising new types of challenges and opportunities, too. Carbon offset and mission compensation has become increasingly popular tool to mitigate emissions and fight against climate change. It contributed to sustainable forestry and other public benefit projects globally.

On the other hand, the spread of these new trends and technologies raises multiple questions. How can CSOs and fundraisers keep up and utilize these new technologies? Do the country laws and practices allow them to benefit from these new opportunities and protect from the potential risks they pose? Are there international and regional standards in place to safeguard this and the freedom of association and privacy?

Despite the rapid spread of digital fundraising there is limited knowledge on these topics. Therefore, the present research aims to map out the existing trends in the ecosystem and the field of fundraising. It attempts to raise awareness of the potential risks and challenges and provides an overview of the spectrum of global, regional and domestic policies that affect fundraising with new technologies. Based on these we formulated a set of recommendations to facilitate further discussions for a better environment for digital fundraising.

The research was developed by the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting (ECNL) based on desktop research and interviews with key experts and practitioners on the topic. The authors would like to express their appreciation to Usha Menon (Usha Menon Management Consultancy), Alex Gladstein (Human Rights Foundation), Ela Janczur (SOS Children’s Village), Pia Tornikoski (Finnish Fundraising Association), Ian MacQuillin (Rogare – The Fundraising Think Tank), Joneja Tatiana (SOS Children’s Villages Belarus), Chris Worman (TechSoup), Slavka Salajová (Creative Industry Forum), Igor Polakovič (Four Paws International), Zuzana Zaťovič (Startlab), Zuzana Behríková (, Halima El Joundi, Rajae Boujnah and Ismail Ilsouk (Simsim), Kristen McGeeney (ICNL) and Francesca Fanucci (ECNL) for their input to the research.

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