Sci & Tech

Tech Support for Charitable Causes

Tech Support for  Charitable Causes
Tech Support for  Charitable Causes

Technology is all-pervasive, as its influence spreads in different aspects of numerous economic sectors.

However, up until till now, one group of the economy has not been part of the electronic upswing–the charity sector.

Iran's charity sector has not seen much in the way of innovation during the past 30 years. Modern payment technologies, some already in use, facilitate donations and help fill the coffers of charities.

Some of the methods being utilized in other territories could be enacted within the Iranian charitable sector with imagination and perseverance.

The Internet of Things, the term which suggests that all aspects of life will be, over time, connected to the World Wide Web is making progress and, in the West, transforming the way people interact with charities.

In this respect, mobile phones are currently the main driver, as related applications are developed both indigenously and imported, which could be mobilized by charities.

Across the world, charities have to constantly innovate. In the United Kingdom for instance, the old soldiers' charity, The British Legion, has rolled out a contactless payment system in the past couple of years, increasing its income considerably during charity drives.

International charity Oxfam, too, began trialing an innovative was to generate funds by using their store windows as a payment system. Novelty factor aside, the group noted an increase in people entering their stores and the time spent in-store increasing by 30%, according to the charity.

To donate money, supporters in Henley and Northampton stores were able to tap the posters hung in the charity’s shop windows to trigger a text message that they send to the charity to complete their donation to its Strength to Survive appeal.

This too was tied to an online video explaining why they would be donating that day.

“We’ve identified two different use scenarios,” Matt Jerwood, Oxfam’s digital fundraising lead, explained to NFC World.

“One is that someone is walking past a shop and wants to make a donation, and the other is that someone has had a conversation with the street fundraiser and we want to give them a piece of engaging content to go away with," NFC World reports.

More simple methods, including SMS, could see a much larger proportion of the population donate. Messaging campaigns are often used in Iran by interest groups or advertisers, but this has not been employed by the charitable sector.

Case in point would be the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee with their iconic boxes around the country, many of which are pilfered and vandalized by offenders using simple devices.

Set up after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the IKRC held a prominent place in collecting charitable contributions, but in recent years has given way to smaller, more dynamic charities that display their charity boxes in higher footfall locations like shopping malls.

The organization—if it teams up with technologists and the country's municipalities—could generate charitable income through methods like subway electronic donation boxes, for example.

The country's entire charity sector could also use Iran's growth in near-field communication payments that have gone on stream in recent months. Bank Shahr (City Bank) is one of the frontrunners in this regard.

In some markets, shoppers opt to donate a small sum on every purchase in supermarkets, which has also not caught on in Iran.

There is some modernization in this sector, such as 2Nate (Pronounced Donate), a new online business that uses crowdfunding as a means to implement charity projects. After 12 months, the site remains online with a handful of projects.

Whether they will modernize their contribution methods is not known, but as Iran opens up to foreign organizations and NGOs, the charity sector like others could suffer from declining contributions if they do not act quickly.