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Impact of Mobile on Charitable Giving

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Sean Milliken Head Shot smallSpecial to the Philanthropy Journal

By Sean Milliken

With digital payments progressing at a rapid pace, more people are feeling empowered to give to their favorite nonprofits how and when they want. One of the most influential advancements is mobile. In fact, as digital payments replace cash, checks, and credit cards across the globe, the impact of mobile technology on charitable giving is reaching a tipping point.

According to the Internet Trends 2015 – Code Conference report from Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, the amount of time that adult users spend with digital media per day has more than doubled in the last seven years, increasing from 2.7 hours per day in 2008 to 5.6 hours per day in 2015, and 51 percent of that time is now spent on mobile devices. Similarly, at PayPal we’re seeing that more consumers are leaning towards the convenience of giving via mobile. Here are three trends we’re seeing.

Paypal LogoMobile fuels global giving by meeting people on their own terms

The ever-increasing use of smart phones and tablets has made it easier for people to donate at the moment they are inspired to give. Earlier this year, PayPal launched a global campaign in support of charities helping those impacted by the Nepal earthquake. More than 422,000 people used PayPal to donate more than $19 million, with 74,000 (18%) choosing to donate from a mobile device. PayPal is also seeing mobile donations grow steadily year over year, and not just during times of crises. For example, during the 2014 Holiday giving season, there was a 101% growth spike in mobile giving on Giving Tuesday compared to the previous year. We expect this trend to continue to accelerate in the coming season.

Micro donations are making a difference

During the Nepal giving campaign, PayPal saw gifts as small as $0.01. While donations ranged in value, with the largest being $10,200, more than a third (39.94%) of donations were for $5 or less. The ability to accept micro donations, which for many years were too costly to process, is creating new ways of engaging people at scale. Weaving this type of giving into mobile experiences represents an opportunity to enable people to support their favorite nonprofits anytime, anywhere through small, but frequent gifts.

Importance of security and convenience

In a recent survey of PayPal users, 28 percent said they wouldn’t have donated if PayPal wasn’t an option, demonstrating the desire of donors to have a convenient, secure way to make their donations. These attributes are particularly important for mobile donors, who can be more time and security sensitive. They’re more likely to abandon their donation at every step in the donation flow, so having an experience that is fast, easy, and safe is critical.

As mobile and digital technologies continue to evolve, more consumers across the world will have the ability to support their favorite cause and do so in a way that is easier and more secure than ever before. PayPal will continue to be on the forefront of advancing charitable giving and empowering people and non-profits to make positive and lasting change in the world.


Sean Milliken is PayPal’s Head of Global Social Innovation and has formerly served as the Director of Nonprofit Strategy for eBay, Inc. He is a co-author featured in the book Innovation and Technology Strategies, the Founding Board Chair for the PayPal Giving Fund, and a member of the National Leadership Council for Communities In Schools. He received his BS in Communications from Virginia Tech.

One response on “Impact of Mobile on Charitable Giving

  1. Israel Medina says:

    Very nice.

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