CharityHack 2010: a few powerful ideas for transforming online fundraising

MissionFish recently participated once again in PayPal’s CharityHack event, which brought together 100 developers for 24 hours to generate ideas for the future of fundraising. Working through the night in small teams, the participants came up with applications and websites that were impressive, innovative, and amusing in equal measure. Our CTO, Oktay Dogramaci (pictured), was a judge.

Oktay Dogramaci at CharityHack10

Oktay Dogramaci at CharityHack10

The overall winnner, CharityBox, came up with one of the easiest and most powerful affiliate fundraising applications I’ve seen. You’ll probably be aware of the model, in which an intermediary donates a percentage of the commission they receive from retailers. Adoption generally remains limited, because you need to visit their site and click on a special link in return for the microdonation. CharityBox ¬†improves the idea by recasting it as a Google Chrome extension using PayPal split payments and the MissionFish database. You simply set your favourite ¬†charities in the toolbar, and it flashes when you visit a participating retailer. More fun, and less friction, than any other implementation I’ve seen.

Charities sometimes struggle to convert their Facebook friends and Twitter followers into active donors. Part of the explanation lies in the difficulty of getting users to leave the social network in order to initiate a (less interesting, more serious) payment. The mobile winner, Givey, removes this barrier by enabling users to link their activity on social networks to micro-donations using PayPal and MissionFish. Populate your Givey account with PayPal and Gift Aid details, and you can send tax-effective donations via Tweets, Facebook Posts, and SMS.

Another powerful idea came from the CharityShock team. Using an Adruino board and capacitor, they were able to convert online donations into small electric shocks for a team member. The sadism, while enjoyable, isn’t integral to the model – you could instead use the Adruino board to light up a Christmas tree, power a model train, open an amusement park or… anything, really. The implications for public event fundraising are striking.

For further details of the event and its winners, including some videos of the winning presentation, check out John Lunn’s blog on the PayPal Developer Network, and the CharityHack10 site.

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