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We Need to Make Online Giving Easier and More Compelling

There is one industry that has not seen widespread success on the internet—philanthropy.

Internet technology has become a part of our daily lives. Nearly everything we once did in the “real” world we now do in our “digital” realm, including, of course, shopping. In 2011, Americans spent nearly $200 billion shopping online, a growth of over 20 percent in 2010. The budding industry of mobile retail reached a new high of $6 billion that same year.

But there is one industry that has not seen widespread success on the Internet: philanthropy. The gap between online shopping and online donating, although closing, remain worlds apart. Chartable organizations need to identify how to conquer a single significant hurdle, how to no longer live on the periphery of media.

In 2011, individuals in the U.S. donated over $260 billion to nonprofit organizations, yet according to Blackbaud, a leading online fundraiser, only 6.3% of donations originated online!

Why the gap? Three reasons: lack of consumer trust, nonprofits limited financial resources, and suppressed awareness and visibility.

Nonprofits are placed at a financial disadvantage as they are expected to operate on limited means while providing tier-one support for social and environmental causes. This limits their ability to build a trusted brand, implement new scalable/secure technology, and have a marketing/PR budget to help them to shout from the rooftops to tell everyone they exist. It’s hard to shine when there are over a million-and-a-half other nonprofits to compete against throughout the U.S.

It’s unfortunate that we have yet to solve the problem. Often, important causes are overlooked while the latest mobile phone is anxiously anticipated. This isn’t about good or bad, right or wrong. It's simply about getting out of our own way. We need to be able to support humanity and the planet—and let’s not forget the furry little creatures that make us smile.

Sharif Youssef is the founder and CEO of iGivefirst, a technology startup that makes charitable giving as easy as liking or tweeting. Here's how you can use iGivefirst.

Photo via Flickr (cc) user Jeffery Turner.

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