The Rise Of Technology In Philanthropy – The Engine Of Social Good

There was a time when new ideas were communicated on posters stuck to streetpoles, or by addressing a gathering in a public space. Fastforward to today and technology offers you instant access to a million ideas, at the touch of a button.

The ideas that resonate widest and deepest are the ones that go ‘viral’, and one of them is the rise of social entrepreneurship, with philanthropy at the heart of business enterprise. The role of the internet, and particularly social media, in reimagining of our future is central, and as a driver of social change there is no tool more powerful.

If you look at the ideas that have penetrated social consciousness on a global scale, they started small but spread like fire, because they tapped into the zeitgeist of our times at all levels, across populations, almost simultaneously via the internet. Certainly this is the story of the CEO SleepOut, which began in 2006 in Sydney, Australia and has since been launched in New Zealand, Canada and across the US and UK, and is now in its second year in South Africa.

“During the past 10 years, social media has enabled communication of the event worldwide and on a massive scale, even locally, while online donation has enabled rapid growth of funds raised. Technology makes it easy to do business with the event. Easy to register, easy to donate, easy to spread the word,” says its founder Bernard Fehon.

Another philanthropic drive that owes its success almost entirely to social media is “67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day” campaign started by Carolyn Steyn in 2013. In just days of launching a Facebook page dedicated to the campaign , hundreds of people from around the world had pledged to knit a blanket for Nelson Mandela Day. Since then, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has transformed into what some are calling a “movement” , one that that has captured the attention of individuals and corporates as far afield as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Cyprus, London, the US and India.

At the same time as driving the force for good, information technology also roots out the bad. A 2014 social entrepreneurship survey commissioned by Chivas Regal, titled Redefining Success in a Changing World, noted that the proliferation of social media and communication channels “also means that companies will find it harder and harder to make ends meet by doing harmful things to society or the environment. This will only intensify as access to technology continues to grow”.

Linked to this is the expansion of knowledge about real challenges facing our world, as well as alternatives to traditional business models – looking at different ways to marry profit and social purpose -as well as fundraising paradigms. The advent of crowdfunding, for example, which has given forward-thinking charities the opportunity to raise capital online at minimal cost, is nothing short of revolutionary. And everywhere, there’s been a proliferation of social impact ‘meet-ups’, as well as social business plan competitions and accelerators – all driven by the internet.

Essentially, technology has not only democratised access to knowledge, but afforded everyone – rich or poor – the power to help change the world, to join the wave of new consciousness that refuses to accept abuses of privilege and routinely asks about the social impact of a company, brand or product.

Technology advancements, meanwhile, are increasingly being integrated into solutions to world poverty, a hugely exciting sphere in itself. Every year Oxfam, together with the UK’s leading social tech funder Nominet Trust, launches a call for nominations for its annual NT100, a global list of the 100 most inspiring uses of technology for social good. Many of them are software solutions for food, education and health needs in Africa.

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.


Our appliqué is made up of global leaders, influencers and forecasters,
all creating conscious capital for humanity.