Capital One to host hackathon for charities

Credit card company is helping not-for-profits reach millennial donors

Rebecca Harris October 18, 2016

Charitable giving has gone digital, but it’s a challenge for small, local charities to compete with more tech-savvy organizations—especially for donations from millennials.

A new survey from Capital One Canada, titled Charitable Giving, found two thirds of millennials would rather support multiple smaller charities than a large one. However, 59% of young donors who have interacted with smaller, local charities said they rate poorly in their use of technology.

The survey also found millennials were more likely to donate to charities that offer digital payments (53%), and were more likely to trust charities with a strong digital presence (50%).

Capital One is helping to bridge the “digital divide” with its first ever hackathon called “Gift the Code.” The hackathon, which takes place Oct. 21 to 23, will support six charities in Toronto: Prosper Canada, Second Harvest, Women’s Habitat, Toronto PFLAG, Holland Bloorview and Blake Boultbee.

In just 40 hours, digital specialists will brainstorm, build and submit technology solutions to address specific digital challenges faced by charities.

“So many charities, small ones especially, are run almost entirely by volunteers, which makes it difficult to take advantage of new digital trends and top-tier technology talent,” said Nathalie Clark, managing vice-president at Capital One Canada. “We wanted to use our digital expertise to help these organizations narrow the digital gap so they can continue making an impact in the most efficient way possible.”

Clark said charitable giving had “seen the fall of cash and rise of many other payment methods—gone are the days of collecting change on the sidewalk for charity.”

“This shift has resulted in more digital alternatives including automated donations, text to donate and mobile giving via browser integration options, as well as app payments and digital wallets,” she said. “With a decreased ability to get a hold of people’s spare change, small charities must compete with the digital advancements made by larger charities and the ease of which they’ve made it to donate.”

All 150 spaces for the hackathon are already filled and Clark said there was a waiting list. “It’s clear that there is a real desire among the technology community to share their expertise with organizations that need it most,” she said.