by Shannon Flynn

Many people don’t immediately think of the Internet of Things (IoT) and philanthropy together. However, the increased connectivity that the IoT provides has resulted in new philanthropic trends. Here are four examples of IoT trends that will matter to charitable organizations.

Smart Hardware Facilitating Cashless Donations

As nonprofit representatives try to encourage passersby to donate, they often hear responses like, “Oh, I’d love to, but I don’t have any cash with me.” That’s increasingly common as more people opt for solutions such as mobile wallets.

Fortunately, the IoT can overcome that barrier. For example, one solution called Strike Pay involves a donor tapping their phone against a smart tag or scanning a QR code. Either of those actions opens an interface to complete their donation using Apple or Google’s payment apps. Similarly, Apple Watch apps allow making payments to charities or for other reasons.

Many IoT trends relate to helping people process payments for goods faster, such as by using smart credit card readers. Those come in particularly during events like craft shows or tattoo conventions. However, as these examples show, intelligent hardware can also get people in the mood to give.

Fitness Trackers Enabling Virtual Runs and Walks

Most charitable events take a lot of effort to organize. However, technology has streamlined many of the processes that typically become the most time-intensive for philanthropic organizations. For example, tools like Zkipster and AllSeated can automate processes like invitation distribution, guest list creation and event registration.

COVID-19 has also significantly disrupted fundraising events that usually occur when large numbers of people gather, such as to participate in charity runs and walks. However, a company called MoveSpring offers a solution that connects to popular fitness trackers and the Apple Watch. Taking part occurs in a person’s chosen location and doesn’t require congregating in large groups.

People raise money while making their way along a “virtual racetrack.” That feature helps foster a community spirit that keeps everyone motivated and invested in the cause. Plus, organizations can create customized milestones that participants unlock as they progress. The setup also works with smartphones if people don’t have fitness trackers.

Opportunities To Give Via Your Smart Speaker

COVID-19 and a general societal trend towards meeting virtually when possible meant that applications like Zoom and Google Meet became the platforms of choice for holding nonprofit events. However, nonprofits can also keep potential donors engaged outside of virtual events. That’s because people can donate by simply uttering commands to their smart speakers.

Smart speakers made by Google and Alexa both offer this capability. Nearly 400 charities got set up to accept donations through Amazon Alexa IoT gadgets alone. The organizations range from the Autism Society of America to the Children’s Miracle Network. People simply say, “Alexa, make a donation to [charity name]” to indicate their desire to give.

Nonprofits engage in a continual effort to break down the obstacles that may make someone hesitate to give. Setting up donations via a smart speaker is an excellent way to make progress, especially considering how smart speakers are so widely used in today’s homes.

IoT Product Providers Connecting With Charities

Another one of the IoT trends worth mentioning concerns the increasing instances of companies that manufacture or distribute IoT products aligning with charities. Such arrangements create mutually beneficial situations. Consumers see that those brands care about giving back, which often stimulates them to do business with them instead of less charity-oriented companies.

Vivint, which makes smart home products such as doorbell cameras and security sensors, launched its Vivint Gives Back program in 2008 by sending a team of employees to help with disaster relief after Hurricane Ike. Since then, it has expanded to give monetary donations to charities, install sensory rooms at schools and spend tens of thousands of hours engaged in activities after taking impact trips to countries like Cambodia and Peru.

There’s also the Give Your Way program from Jasco, a company that sells electronics, tech and smart home products. When people buy items from that retailer, part of the checkout process involves choosing a charitable cause from a displayed assortment. Jasco gives 50% of its net profits to the listed organizations. Also, if people purchase products in Jasco stores instead, they can register those items online later. Then, the company gives $1 from every product’s price to a charity.

IoT Trends Can Make a Meaningful Difference

Nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to make the world a better place, staying committed to the task despite numerous difficulties. As the IoT becomes even more prominent, more examples like the four trends here should become evident, giving organizations additional ways to capitalize on the increased connectivity to drive giving.

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