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Technology changes how we give

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From crowdfunding and instant mobile payments for emergency relief to virtual volunteering platforms, technology has changed the way we give. By allowing individuals to assist in realtime, the Internet has transformed the non-profit space.
Techies Day, which takes place tomorrow (3 October), celebrates the achievements of all the people working behind the scenes to bring tech and social impact closer together.

“Technology has opened doors for the social sector in South Africa,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of online platform forgood.co.za. “Virtual volunteering, besides being quick and easy, allows individuals to do good from anywhere, at any time — from the luxury of your couch or even your office cubicle.”

As the biggest volunteering platform in South Africa, forgood connects individuals and corporates with registered causes in a way that builds sustainability and enables businesses to track their impact. Through its various streams, forgood reaches over 300 000 people every month and remains accountable to both the businesses and the causes it supports.

From mentorship, proposal writing, fundraising, translation or graphic design – anybody with access to a digital device can volunteer. “The benefits of volunteering, both online and offline, are endless. By connecting to causes, individuals and groups can get involved with social change in a real and impactful way – from just about anywhere,” says Hadfield.

Volunteering is good for your company’s bottom line too. From increased morale to better staff retention, businesses benefit from greater employee involvement in their social projects and technology only further enables this.

Through forgood’s platform, South African Breweries (SAB) were able to run their virtual Mandela Day campaign – 59 events were planned across the country, from Aliwal North to the middle of Sandton, with more than 800 staff signing up for the campaign in under two weeks. The platform enabled seamless collection of volunteers, including those hard-to-manage logistics around t-shirts, dietary requirements and disabled-friendly venues. “Real impact can be created by an employee base empowered by technology,” says Hadfield.

Since launching its business product in 2015, forgood has designed and assisted in managing online volunteering ecosystems for some of South Africa’s biggest corporates, including the likes of Deloitte and Discovery. Each company’s individually branded platform is populated with realtime volunteering and donation requests from nonprofits.

An employee’s engagement and commitment to a company is increasingly influenced by the way that the business engages not only with its employees, but also the larger development sector in which it operates. “An added bonus is that employee volunteer hours can be incorporated into a company’s CSI mandate, which contributes to its BBBEE ratings. It’s a win-win scenario for all,” says Hadfield.