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The world seems to be changing at a more rapid pace than any other time in history. Now, with a post-wallet economy gaining popularity, consumers as well as businesses and organizations alike should be paying attention to mobile wallets, digital payment, and even cryptocurrency (a form of digital currency that can be used for online transactions, Bitcoin being the most prolific brand).
Bringing finance to a whole new level, these technologies offer swift transactions that are easily tracked and have some safety enhancements. Nonprofits could considerably enhance their fundraising and donor numbers using some or all of these digital finance options. This might enable them to spend more time on their mission and less time worrying about funding.
In April 2014, a gala was held in Minnesota where, for one of the very first times on record, auction attendees were encouraged to pay for items with cryptocurrency.
As reported by the Star Tribune local, "Spare Key [the charity] is one of the first Minnesota nonprofits to make an appeal to cryptocurrency holders, and among a tiny but growing group nationally. … Spare Key even hired a consulting 'director of cryptocurrency development' to build online infrastructure and facilitate donations by tech-savvy currency users — who it believes are a largely untapped market of donors."
This type of fundraising option is enabling a whole new demographic to get involved. One such participant was Erik Goebel, a 29-year-old University of Minnesota graduate student studying chemistry, a self-described geek who "likes to experiment with new technologies and try new gizmos and gadgets."
Goebel comments, "This was the first time I paid for something in person with cryptocurrency. ... It was pretty awesome. To take my phone somewhere and use my virtual currency and receive physical items back — that was really cool."
This image is part of an infographic explaining cryptocurrency and mobile payments. According to the infographic, 40 percent of North American consumers have already adopted mobile payments in some form. Download the full infographic here.
For organizations to get involved in accepting cryptocurrency, mobile pay, or other digital transactions, a platform needs to be set up for easy transference. In the case of Spare Key, an arrangement with an online processor was secured, enabling the capture of these various payment methods and eventually converting the payments to U.S. currency.
The fees are usually nominal and some companies, in the case of a nonprofit customer, may even donate their service as a tax write-off. This enables transaction fees to be waived for digital donors, making their involvement that much more enticing.
Currently, it is sort of a whirlwind when it comes to the variety of post-wallet payment options. However, the major players are popular names such as:
Cryptocurrency is lesser known but rapidly rising in the ranks under names like:
Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) released The 2014 Nonprofit Benchmarks Study, which reported how online fundraising has continually increased over the last few years.
It showed that, "Online donations were higher than ever before. Online giving was up 14 percent in 2013, with monthly giving revenue up 25 percent compared to 2012. Monthly giving accounted for 16 percent of all online revenue."
With this kind of traffic, it is only a matter of time before online donations turn to mobile transactions that are easier, faster, and more transparent than ever considered possible.
For people who might not have donated to a nonprofit or charity before, the post-wallet economy offers all sorts of new opportunities. For nonprofits, this whole new world can make doing good easy and even fun for people.
Images and infographic: Dave Landry, Jr.
Dave Landry, Jr. is a finance and marketing consultant for several small businesses. He has worked with a few nonprofits in the past, and has enjoyed learning from the amazing TechSoup community.