The Uprise of Microphilanthropy for Nonprofits

Blog / NPO

The Uprise of Microphilanthropy for Nonprofits

Although we often think of philanthropy in terms of large donations made to charitable organizations by wealthy or long-standing supporters, giving has changed in recent years for a couple of notable reasons:

  • The pandemic has made it difficult for many donors to sustain their historic levels of giving
  • Upcoming generations of givers are often cash-poor or burdened with student debt

Cause-related donations are still happening; they’re just more likely to happen in small amounts. Especially among younger donors who’ve adopted a new way of giving known as microphilanthropy.

If your nonprofit has been struggling to hit fundraising targets, it may be worth embracing the uprise of microphilanthropy as a means to supplement your revenue stream in uncertain times and beyond. 

What is microphilanthropy?

Also known as micro-donating or micro-giving, microphilanthropy is the gifting of smaller donation amounts ranging from $0.25 to $25. 

While small in size, microdonations can add up quickly enough to make a real difference to your organization. It’s because the amounts involved are so minor, in fact, that most people don’t think twice about donating when the opportunity arises. 

Why microphilanthropy is gaining in popularity

From Facebook fundraisers to text-to-give appeals, advances in mobile and financial technology have enabled new charitable channels that make it easy to adopt a microphilanthropy mindset. 

With a simple smartphone app, for example, donors can feed a hungry child for less than a dollar a day, or support their favourite charity by rounding up their daily purchase amounts.

Credit card fees for such generosity can be high at $0.30 per transaction. But with the help of accounting solutions like Stripe and Rotessa’s pre-authorized debits, your nonprofit can reduce transaction fees enough to make smaller donations worthwhile. 

And because the barrier to entry is so low where microdonations are concerned, they’re particularly appealing to younger generations who appreciate the way microphilanthropy:

  • Democratizes giving, especially at the grassroots level (meaning they don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference)
  • Allows anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, to support the causes they care about

Donor demographics have changed.

Not only are millennials now the largest generation in Canada (at 27% of the population), as digital natives, they’re active on social media and care a great deal about fairness and equity.

When CanadaHelps launched the Black Solidarity Fund (BSF) during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, more than half the 3900 donations received were from younger, newer donors who gave generously enough online to help the BSF raised nearly $1.9 million. 

Microphilanthropy benefits

One of the biggest benefits of microphilanthropy is the way it allows nonprofits to reach new donors and diversify their fundraising strategies.

Connect with new donors. Expanding fundraising efforts beyond your traditional audience and donation appeals can help you connect with an entirely new generation of donors. 

By engaging in more initiatives that appeal to the microphilanthropy-minded (like crowdfunding, peer-to-peer campaigns, or fun, collaborative events that help givers connect directly with your mission), you can:

  • Grow your donor database
  • Diversify your revenue model
  • Encourage the kind of interactions that solidify long-term giving relationships

Broaden your fundraising approach. Taking an eggs-in-one-basket approach to fundraising increases the risk that an unexpected event will negatively impact your single-sourced revenue. 

Rather than relying predominantly on GivingTuesday fundraising activities, for example, you can take advantage of microphilanthropy to supplement your revenue throughout the year. The more giving channels you access, the more regular and reliable your organization’s income is likely to be.

How to get started with microphilanthropy

To get started with microphilanthropy, you should first examine your current giving channels to determine which donation streams you’ve yet to tap into. 

Since one of the best ways to reach the demographics most likely to make microdonations (i.e., millennial and gen Z individuals) is through email or social media, you may want to create a social media strategy that educates younger donors on the impact of their donations. 

It can also be worth exploring peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaigns as a way for donors to involve themselves in your fundraising efforts and help amplify your message.

No matter which micro-giving avenues you leverage, microphilanthropy is a great way to round out—rather than replace—your nonprofit’s traditional fundraising channels. Why not explore its potential for reaching new audiences, fostering long-term donor relationships, and ultimately building out your revenue stream?

Gracia Chua
About Gracia Chua
Gracia Chua is the Marketing Specialist at Enkel Backoffice Solutions, a Vancouver based accounting firm that provides day-to-day bookkeeping services for small to medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.