Electronic vision

By Todd Cohen

Charities need to catch the tech wave.

With online donations to tsunami relief agencies already estimated to exceed $350 million, electronic charity clearly works.

Yet the flood of online giving was unleashed only by a huge disaster, and benefited mainly charities geared for web-based fundraising.

Overall, however, charity has failed to invest in technology.

With charities accounting for roughly $1 of every $20 in the U.S. economy, a growing menu of products and services has been developed to help the charitable world do business.

Those include not only web-based systems to handle donations, but software to help charities handle operations and accounting, track their impact, deliver services, raise money, make and manage grants and investments, collect and share knowledge, and communicate with donors, members and the public.

The commercial world has invested heavily in technology, and would sink without it.

But charities, hamstrung by narrow vision and short-sighted boards and funders, have gone begging for too long for the hardware, software and tech training they need to survive in a fiercely competitive and increasingly hard-hearted world.

Technology alone cannot fix what is wrong in society, but it can give charities a powerful tool to be more productive, effective and innovative.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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