Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy “Digital for Good” study explores technology-enabled giving’s implications for future of philanthropy
A new global report from in a first-of-its-kind research series explores emerging philanthropic giving vehicles around the world. Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving examines new and evolving trends in philanthropy – including the use of crypto donations, contactless giving, workplace giving and online volunteering – in eight counties with diverse philanthropic, cultural and policy environments. The report also includes implications of technology-enabled ways of giving and predictions of how they are likely to affect the future of philanthropy.
In collaboration with partner organizations and experts in Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's researchers used various methodologies to consider the unique cultural conditions of each country and identify insights at both the national and global levels. The study series is based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the advent of new, innovative and often digital fundraising methods that make it easier and faster for people around the world to participate in philanthropy in their local communities and internationally,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at the school. “The emerging forms of giving highlighted in our report have the potential to help build the giving environment and propel philanthropy forward. The Digital for Good research series offers new insights for civil society leaders, philanthropists, regulators, scholars, and the public who seek to understand and leverage them for greater social impact.”
Five Giving Vehicles with Transformative Potential
The global report released today shares multiple key insights from the eight countries included in the study and spotlights five giving vehicles that have the potential to help shape the future of philanthropy globally. These vehicles are:
1. Contactless giving: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use and adoption of tap-and-donate technology that was on the rise even before the global health crisis. The use of crowdfunding platforms also has grown rapidly, increasing fundraising opportunities for nonprofit organizations in Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. In addition to crowdfunding, in South Korea the amount donated through various contactless giving vehicles – both traditional (such as automated response service (ARS) and general interbank recurring order (GIRO)) and new ones (such as peer-to-peer donations) – also increased. Online and digital giving have grown significantly in India and Singapore in recent years.
2. Cryptocurrency giving: The report finds that crypto has begun to take hold as a means of giving in countries such as South Africa and South Korea, but the recent volatility of the global cryptocurrency markets is creating some uncertainty around the future of crypto giving. In many countries, data on cryptocurrency giving is limited, while in other countries, such as China and Singapore, regulations on cryptocurrency restrict charitable giving.
3. Donor-advised funds (DAFs): DAFs, which allow donors to contribute their cash and non-cash assets to a sponsoring organization that invests and acts as the administrator for the funds, are growing in use and popularity around the world. In Singapore, DAFs are one of the most rapidly expanding charitable vehicles. DAFs are a more established and commonly used giving vehicle in the United Kingdom but they are still in their infancy in countries such as China and South Korea. However, the use of DAFs is growing steadily in all three countries.
4. Impact investing: The United Kingdom continues to pioneer the use of impact investing, employing it to address some of the country’s greatest social and economic challenges. Other countries’ efforts to develop similar giving vehicles are gaining momentum. An initiative in India – where impact investing is also well-established – focused on financial inclusion has raised more than $7.3 billion and impacted around 100 million low-income citizens in 15 years. In China, Africa and South Korea, impact investing is relatively new but growing rapidly. Nineteen leading foundations in China have invested in a total of 2,135 projects initiated by nonprofit organizations and social enterprises between 2008 and 2017.
5. Workplace giving: Workplace giving has significant potential to encourage a culture of giving, enhance employee engagement and support community needs, the report shows. In Kenya, several employee giving campaigns benefiting community projects have been successfully implemented, while in South Africa, payroll giving has become the most popular means of workplace giving, followed closely by employers’ matching gifts.
Looking Forward: Implications & Predictions
In addition to identifying new and emerging philanthropic vehicles around the world, the Digital for Good report also explores how technology-enabled ways of giving will likely continue to shape the philanthropic landscape for years to come. These long-term research implications and predictions include:
- New societal challenges will accelerate the development and proliferation of new ways of giving. Just as COVID-19 necessitated the use of contactless giving and as digital piggy banks or “charity jars” emerged as an effective way to donate in response to the invasion of Ukraine, future crises related to climate change, displacement and forced migration, global health, and military invasions will bring about even more ways to facilitate cross-border philanthropy.
- Online volunteering will change the way organizations engage donors and volunteers. Virtual options to donate time, talent and treasure will continue to enable anywhere, anytime philanthropic participation. Many companies have adopted and integrated online volunteering with their workplace giving programs – a trend that is likely to continue as companies aim to make these programs more robust and accessible for an increasingly dispersed workforce.
- Use of emerging giving vehicles will lead to further globalization and democratization of philanthropy. Giving vehicles such as crowdfunding, round-up donations, and integrated donation buttons on websites and mobile applications will allow everyday donors to actively participate in local and cross-border philanthropy more easily than ever before – a necessary development as migration and globalization make communities increasingly interconnected.
- New and innovative giving vehicles will continue to emerge, but their sustainability will depend on long-term support from governments. The report calls on government leaders to create an enabling environment for philanthropy through regulations, policies, public campaigns, and legislative measures that seamlessly facilitate and incentivize giving in the digital age.
- The need to identify and understand new and emerging philanthropic vehicles will only continue to grow in importance. To bring the power and potential of digital giving tools to scale, it will be critical for the philanthropic sector to continue to monitor the evolving, global philanthropic landscape; collect, analyze and publish internationally comparable data; and encourage knowledge sharing among researchers, practitioners and policymakers around the world.
The Digital for Good global report and country-specific reports for Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom are available at https://globalindices.iupui.edu/additional-research/digital-for-good/index.html
The Digital for Good research series is a companion to the school’s Global Philanthropy Indices, which provide a comprehensive view of the global giving landscape to help increase philanthropic engagement and activity worldwide.
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its undergraduate, graduate, certificate and professional development programs, its research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram and “Like” us on Facebook.
About the research partners
Brazil – IDIS (Institute for the Development of Social Investment)
China – Yuan Tian, PhD, Associate Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
India – Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India
Kenya – East Africa Philanthropy Network (EAPN)
Singapore – National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) Singapore
South Africa – Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Southern Africa
South Korea – The Center on Philanthropy at The Beautiful Foundation
United Kingdom – Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)
To learn more about the research partners in each of the countries studied, visit