EDITORIAL: Charities need to follow tech wave

Keeping up with changes in technology determines charities' ability to connect with potential donors

This week’s plea from the Salvation Army for more bell-ringing volunteers to stand with its red kettles sounded familiar to last year’s call.

The lack of people available for kettle duty is contributing to another tough year for the campaign. With less than a week to go, it has raised $70,000 of its $250,000 goal.

While we commend the Salvation Army’s mandate and the motivation behind its efforts, its struggles illustrate the challenges faced by organizations relying on traditional modes of gathering donations.

Greater Victoria has become largely a cashless region and less people have money on hand with which to shop or donate on the street. Some enterprising marketplace merchants have addressed that by spending a little on electronic devices that facilitate cashless transactions.

Some organizations have stepped up their social media presence in conjunction with their main website, many of which contain easy-to-find online donation options.

Even organizations which use traditional methods, such as the United Way, are getting creative in how they promote them. Challenged with the same economic downturn as everyone else, this charity funder has made strides by focusing on its workplace payroll deduction campaign that makes giving more manageable for people on limited budgets.

It’s not that we don’t have the disposable income to donate. The average household income in Greater Victoria is higher than the B.C. and national averages, according to Statistics Canada.

The recent story of the Saanich family forced by fire from their Obed Avenue home, and the resulting outpouring of donations of lodging, household items and cash from neighbours, friends and complete strangers, proves the public will donate to causes they feel connected to.

Our charitable donations actually continue to rate above the national average, yet some non-profits are finding it difficult to maintain donation levels.

It’s no different than in business: organizations that don’t shift with the times are destined to be left behind.

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