With technology platforms changing the way we purchase products and services on a regular basis, it was only a matter of time before such innovations impacted the way we give to charity. Launched earlier this month, Boston-based startup Changefolio allows users to set up automated donations tied to everyday purchases. The approach is a novel one, giving users the power to create custom rules that, for instance, allow them to give 10 percent of every trip to the grocery store.
This announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Amazon Smile, the high-profile giving initiative from the retail giant that automatically gives 0.5 percent of purchase prices to a charity of the shopper's choice. Both of the platforms aim to make giving a part of daily life, and the mission is an admirable one. For many, models like these free them from the effort of working philanthropy into hectic schedules. For others, they offer a way to make an aggregate impact with a low cost-of-entry. But does the ease-of-transaction come at the cost of due diligence and vested engagement? What happens when we take the thinking out of philanthropy?
There is no question that automatic donations at point-of-purchase will continue to emerge in the marketplace at both retail and online locations. The trick for companies will be to provide consumers with options for learning more about where their donations are going and the respective impact. Transparency around supported charities, links to nonprofit financial statements and targeted content around issue impact must be readily available to consumers. Just as the donation process becomes easier and easier for consumers, so too must the experience of vetting where that money goes. It's time to make the process of discovering impact – not just donating money – automatic.
-Patrick McQueen, Senior Account Executive, Social Impact