You've probably noticed a new feature on Facebook during the last year. Instead of just being informed when it's someone's birthday, you may now be getting invitations to donate to a charitable cause on their behalf.

The first time the option appeared, it probably seemed ingenious to many people--myself included. By the twentieth time, it might have gotten frustrating for some. After all, most people can't afford to make a donation every time someone they know has a birthday, and there's the potential for it to leave you feeling a little guilty. This, however, is really symbolic of something deeper and more interesting (at least to me).

It's the evolution of social giving, and it's being driven by technology. Facebook's donation platform is one example.

Another obvious one is the fundraising website GoFundMe and its numerous counterparts. Some people aren't convinced of the social utility in these platforms. It's certainly true that there are wrinkles to be ironed out--but that's how evolution works. In the meantime, we can appreciate that it's easier than ever before for people and communities in need to reach out and get help.

Yet another example is the social-impact startup Givebox, which provides a service designed to increase the fundraising power of fledgling non-profit organizations. Whereas similar platforms cut deeply into donation money with transaction and subscription fees, Givebox passes donor money directly to the non-profits. Even simple websites like charitynavigator.org, and more nuanced apps like Charity Tracker, are playing a big part in increasing the effectiveness of social giving.

For everyday philanthropists or those who simply want to give back more, all of this is good news. Promoting social welfare, supporting causes and communities that we believe in, and feeling confident about where the money goes are all becoming easier, thanks to accessible innovations that empower us to do so.

Published on: Oct 8, 2018