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Givers 3min read

The Evolution of Nonprofit Donations

Nonprofit donations have been an important aspect of keeping organizations up and running for decades. But the ways these nonprofits receive donations are constantly changing. As technology advances, fundraising has taken leaps forward to make use of the latest and greatest.

Let’s take a look back at the history of nonprofit donations — and why modernization is a good thing for your organization.

Pledge Cards

Once upon a time, pledge cards were the kings of nonprofit donations. When you attended a live fundraising event, you would be given a small card on which to write how much you intended to give. Then, you would head home and, in theory, mail in a check for the amount you promised to donate.

Pledge cards are still in use today by many organizations. The problem with this system, though, is that sometimes people forget to follow through. Some are quick to misplace small items, or forget to send in the money they fully intended to give.

Pledge cards were a great first option, but modern times call for modern methods. Make way for online giving.

Online Nonprofit Donations

When personal computers and the internet stepped onto the scene, they created a wonderful new way to accept nonprofit donations. Instead of taking home a pledge card and mailing in a check, the process could be done entirely online. Since it first became available, online giving has continued to steadily increase.

While this was a major leap forward, online giving wasn’t without its drawbacks. In order to give, a donor still had to return home to their computer, visit a website, fill out a web form, and then finally make a donation. There was still plenty of room for improvement.


Aren’t mobile phones wonderful? It is hard to imagine a time when we didn’t carry cell phones with us at all times. Even before the advent of smartphones, connecting to the mobile web and sending text messages felt like a dream come true.

Nonprofits eventually adapted their fundraising efforts to incorporate this new technology. Making text donations to disaster relief efforts became the go-to method of helping out in a crisis. But is text-to-give the pinnacle of giving technology? Did people continue to use their phone’s text messaging feature to make nonprofit donations after the initial excitement wore off?

According to a report by The New York Times, text-to-give has struggled to maintain its popularity. After the American Red Cross received more than $30 million in text-to-give donations for Haitian earthquake relief in 2010, the organization was only able to raise $4.5 million via text for a similar disaster in Japan.

Unfortunately, text-go-give is not perfect. Memorizing shortcodes and being restricted to set dollar amounts makes the process more of a burden than it should be. Thankfully, technology continued to advance, and the act of making nonprofit donations became easier than ever when mobile giving apps arrived.

Giving Apps

No need to write checks. No need to sit down at a computer. No more memorizing text codes, filling out lengthy web forms, or limited donation amounts. With giving apps, nonprofit donations finally became fast and convenient.

Donors can simply pull out their smartphone and give, whether they are attending a fundraising event, out of town on vacation, or at home watching television.

The previous giving methods made wonderful advancements, but mobile giving apps are by far the most easy-to-use method for making nonprofit donations.

About the Author

Allison has a passion for charitable giving and believes that small acts of kindness can make the world a better place. She uses her web content and social media expertise to guide churches and nonprofits through the mobile fundraising process.

Allison Weaver