Technology is Changing Philanthropy
Amit Raizada Foundation
February 19, 2021
In my work as an investor and entrepreneur, I’ve always sought out the ventures and products that promise to play a significant role in shaping the economy over the next ten to fifteen years. In most cases, these involve the application of modern technology to industries or products ripe for innovation.
When it comes to philanthropy, the same principle holds true. Nonprofit organizations and philanthropists can use new platforms and services to raise funds, manage the books, and allocate resources to the charities and nonprofits working to make a difference in communities around the country.
During this difficult moment, the importance of philanthropy has never been more salient. While we enter a new year hopeful that conditions will improve and that the coronavirus vaccination campaign soon returns life to normal, communities across the country will still face a number of deep challenges in the opening months of this promising year. Recently, new statistics were released by the Department of Labor showing that job growth shrunk by 140,000 in December. While the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use, COVID-19 caseloads continue to skyrocket in cities like Los Angeles.
We are not out of the woods yet. As philanthropists, we must keep up the work—and technology can help get us there.
A few innovative startup platforms are already innovating the way philanthropists and charities approach charitable giving.
For example, GiveWell evaluates charitable organizations’ impact using hard data analytics and statistics. Using this evidence-based approach, GiveWell identifies organizations that are truly saving lives and making a measurable impact. Best of all, GiveWell provides its resources and tools for free, empowering donors with the knowledge and information to make the best decisions for their philanthropy.
Another platform helping philanthropists make meaningful donations is Kiva. Kiva is a microfinance platform with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. Individuals can join the platform as either lenders or borrowers—a nontraditional philanthropy model that is shaking up the space. Kiva’s model allows historically under-banked communities, which do not have easy access to traditional lending tools, to get low-cost loans. Users can give as little as $25 to support a range of causes around the world. Through Kiva, users have facilitated over $1.53B in loans, connecting 3.8M borrowers with 1.9M lenders.
This approach could prove particularly relevant in this coming year. By giving donors and borrowers an unprecedented degree of freedom, this model helps not only to aid ailing communities, but to lift nascent businesses and ventures off the ground. Many of these businesses are owned and imagined by women and people of color, helping to ensure that the post-COVID economy reflects the great wealth of racial diversity in our country.
These two models have applied the problem-solving ethos of the startup space and innovative technology to the philanthropy space, elevating donors’ approaches and improving outcomes for communities in need.
As we enter 2021, I think these platforms—and other similar services—will continue to impact the ways and means philanthropists choose to give. At the Amit Raizada Foundation, we seek to catalyze lasting social change that builds healthier, better educated, more tolerant communities. During this difficult moment in our nation’s history, technology can help us refine our approach and amplify our impact.