Techopia Live: Ottawa firm looks to Make Giving Happen for a digital generation

Techopia Live showed its charitable side this week with an Ottawa tech firm that’s helping local clients such as Carleton University tailor their fundraising campaigns to a new generation.

Make Giving Happen is a spinoff from Ottawa-based digital agency RealDecoy. The company develops software that integrates with brands’ existing website to give clients’ fundraising pages more oomph than the standard “donate now” button.

For example, Carleton uses the firm’s tech to power its FutureFunder platform, which played a role in the university’s recent $308-million crowdfunding campaign.

Alumni, students and faculty can all use FutureFunder to raise money for their own causes. Wallis Stagg, Make Giving Happen’s director of charitable giving, told Techopia Live that while previous generations were more likely to donate to their alma maters via a regular cheque in the mail, campaigns that target specific causes are more likely to appeal to recent graduates. Stagg gave the example of a campaign to provide care for students’ support animals as one that resonated with donors.

“Of course we know that students need support animals and they need to go to class with them, but we don’t think about the logistics involved with that,” she said. “They need food, they need leashes, they need a certain amount of care while they’re at the school, and I can choose to donate to that cause.”

New platforms such as Make Giving Happen and GoFundMe have emerged as modern solutions for charities, but it’s worth digging into how crowdfunding platforms vary in the way they handle donor information. Megan Wallace, lawyer with Techopia sponsor Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP and head of its non-profit and charity law group, noted that using third-party providers can sometimes cut charities off from their supporters, leaving them unable to send follow-up emails or properly manage their donor database.

Make Giving Happen’s platform separates itself from competitors by keeping the donation process within a company’s “digital umbrella,” Stagg said. The software sits overtop a clients’ existing website, so there’s no barrier keeping donor information from the charities.

In addition to donor management, keeping the process on one web address provides a feeling of security throughout the transaction.

“There’s a trust factor in that. Any time somebody pulls out their credit card online to make a purchase, there’s a moment of hesitation when you’re taken to a third party to check out,” Stagg said.

“What’s great about this is that you’re never leaving the site.”

To hear more about how the digital revolution is disrupting the charitable sector, watch the video above.