2017 has undeniably been a challenging year. In the last few months alone, we've felt the impact of numerous natural disasters striking our communities, from major earthquakes in Mexico to hurricanes throughout the Caribbean to two of the worst fires ever in both Northern and Southern California. But the response has been equally incredible, with organizations and individuals focusing activity and donor support on disaster response - all on top of the work of organizations like Direct Relief, Norwegian Refugee Council and Oxfam to improve the countless daunting global issues like access to quality healthcare, the refugee crisis and poverty facing our society today.

Although the majority of you may have already kicked off volunteering and donation efforts this year, research shows that the most generous days of the year are still ahead of us. On average, 31 percent of annual giving occurs during the month of December, with 12 percent of all annual giving taking place on the last three days of the year - but that doesn't mean giving efforts have to end on December 31.

Using modern apps and services can help accelerate charitable efforts throughout the entire year. Here are five of our favorite apps making difference for social impact organizations - offering new ways for both companies and individuals to give back:

  1. Fluxx manages the grantmaking process for nonprofits. It's a logistical challenge for nonprofit leaders to keep their organizations running smoothly while trying to track the many grants they apply for each year, and this platform simplifies the process. By funneling grant applications through Fluxx, nonprofit leaders can track the status of their applications so they can meet deadlines and better manage their organization long-term. Fluxx also makes the giving process more efficient for grantmakers and foundations that are looking to set up grants with nonprofits and charitable causes.
  2. Benevity makes it easy for businesses to support their employees' charitable giving and volunteer efforts. The Benevity platform can help organizations rally their employees and customers to support disaster relief, solve social and environmental challenges together, and even deploy matching funds and other incentives to show their support. This is what we at Okta use to manage our employee giving efforts through Okta for Good. This type of platform makes it possible for organizations to connect with the growing base of employees and potential customers that care if businesses are finding a way to give back.
  3. VolunteerMatch does exactly what its name implies: matches volunteers with the causes that matter to them. Companies and nonprofits can use the website to recruit and manage volunteers, and use their tools for guidance on how to improve their volunteering programs. VolunteerMatch also offers customization options for companies that want to brand their own volunteering projects and connect employees to a volunteering cause.
  4. Crowdrise dedicates its services exclusively to charitable giving - and not just for nonprofits. While organizations can build landing pages for event fundraising and charitable causes, individuals can also seek funds to cover personal expenses. It offers a range of local and national causes across thousands of organizations, making it possible for donors of all backgrounds to support an individual, event or cause that matters to them.
  5. Classy offers its fundraising platform to nonprofits that are tackling the world's toughest problems. The social enterprise started started based on a goal to use modern, accessible technology to encourage younger givers to get involved on the devices they're already using. Today, Classy serves over 4,000 nonprofit organizations with online fundraising, mobile and community engagement tools. 

In the United States, charitable donations reached a record $390 billion last year - and apps and services like these are enabling a new generation of giving. They make it possible for individuals and companies from all backgrounds and industries to give from our laptops and phones, during the holiday season and throughout the year.