Stacie Mann Kronthal said people watching the news in recent weeks have had many reasons to be inspired to make a charitable donation.
Whether it is to assist Americans impacted by Hurricane Sandy or helping Israelis under siege from the most recent violence in the Gaza Strip, people want to find ways to help, but they want to do it in the easiest way possible, Kronthal said.
In the 21st century, that can take place with the swipe of credit card, a simple text or a click of the mouse.
Charitable giving through digital channels is quickly becoming the most popular way people choose to help, said Kronthal, vice president of partnerships for the Bethesda-based NetworkforGood.org.
Founded in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Network for Good has helped collect more than $700 million for more than 80,000 nonprofit organizations through online giving and other digital programs. This includes assisting charitable groups like the Jewish Federations of North America along with businesses such as Capital One, which allows its card holders to donate cash or credit card reward points to more than 1.2 million U.S. charities.
“This is a digital world we live in today,” Kronthal said. “When people are sitting around the Shabbat table talking about causes to support, they are looking for convenient ways of doing it. Today, more than ever, that means using a credit card or smartphone rather than reaching for a checkbook or dropping off a donation to someone standing outside a store or at an intersection.”
JFNA spokesman Joe Berkofsky said his organization has tried to be on the forefront when it comes to donations through digital platforms, and that approach seems to be working. In 2011, JFNA raised $11.5 million through 24,000 online transactions. This compares to $9.5 million through about 8,000 online transactions in 2009.
In addition, Berkofsky said, JFNA is starting to see its donations via texting increase as well. He pointed out that in just the first few days of launching its Israel Terror Relief Fund, JFNA raised about $3,000 through 30 text-to-pledge donations.
“E-philanthropy through online donations, credit card transactions and texting is a burgeoning part of our work today,” Berkofsky said. “It has become an even more powerful tool during times of crises like we are seeing today. The Jewish community has always been very responsive during such times, and now it’s easier than ever to do so.”
Also becoming increasingly popular are affinity credit cards, where people can donate to various causes every time they make a purchase. For those seeking to support charitable causes in
Israel, there is the HAS (Heritage Affinity Services) Visa card.
Launched in 2005, card holders can support up to five Israel-related charitable organizations within the HAS 24-member network. This includes hospitals, emergency services, children’s organizations and social service agencies.
“This card is an easy way for Jewish communities to support Israel,” said HAS Advantage co-founder Zev Doubler in a statement. “You can spend money on your HAS Advantage Card every day while benefiting Israel’s economy.”
Capital One has a similar program designed to assist smaller nonprofits. Card Lab Connect allows an organization to set up its own affinity card, where users have a portion of their charges go toward a charity. This inc-ludes 2 percent on gas/grocery, up to 10 percent “preferred merchant” purchases, 1 percent on everything else and a $50 first purchase bonus per approved application.
“It’s really a simple approach for small nonprofits to help raise funds for their cause,” Capital One spokeswoman Pam Girardo said.