Convenience is king (Guest Post)

Internet entrepreneur, Alex Kontos, argues that charities need to appeal to younger donors and “tap into the online lifestyles”, following research suggesting that certain demographics are not donating to charities.

| 8th May 15

Internet entrepreneur, Alex Kontos, argues that charities can benefit from better slotting into the lives of younger donors.

The latest Charities Aid Foundation research makes for worrying reading. Men are much less likely to donate to charity than women, with more than half saying they’d given nothing in the last month.

And there’s not just a gender divide, as young people are still not as generous as the older generation, with less than half of those questioned having donated to charity in the last four weeks. The report suggests that to ensure optimum future funding, charities should be doing more to target these groups.

As a young man myself, this rings particularly true. I doubt many of my peers have a regular donation set up, or even throw a few coins in a street collection bucket.

It’s not that my gender or generation don’t care, it’s just that we’re used to things working around the way we live our lives – both on and offline – and most charities haven’t quite found a way to fit in with my lifestyle as yet. It may sound lazy, but to me and my generation, convenience is absolutely king.

PennyA great example of a charity that has got it right is Penny for London, which allows people to donate simply by using a contactless travel card. Every day you travel on the bus or tube, or buy a coffee or sandwich at one of Penny for London’s partners you donate a penny to support young Londoners.

Of course, not every charity can do a deal with a major operator like Transport for London, but there are options emerging in the digital world, which follow a similar model of little and often giving.

One example is letting young people ‘support as they surf’ the web. Savvy consumers have known for years that they can earn ‘cashback’ rewards on their online purchases through sites like quidco. This is possible because online retailers pay a small ‘commission’ to websites that refer a customer and all quidco does is split that commission with the consumer.

Savvy charities are now realising that they can do the same.  All a consumer needs to do is surf the web using a browser provided by their favourite charity. The charity then becomes the ‘referring site’ to a retailer and earns a commission on purchases. This costs the consumer nothing and can earn the charity millions – all those micro donations add up!

This kind of innovative thinking is what is needed to engage younger audiences. The CAF report shows that just 15% of UK donations currently come through online channels. To me this is nonsensical, when you consider that Brits spend more shopping online per head than any other nation, and the UK is one of the world’s centres of digital excellence.

It’s time our charities tapped into younger people’s online lifestyles and we became leaders in digital donations too.

Alex Kontos created Waterfox, a superfast web browser, when he was just 16. It is now used by 3 million people in 180 countries. Charities can use Waterfox’s soon to come search engine, Storm, to generate new revenues.