Can an app help with the UK fundraising drought?

Can an app help with the U.K. fundraising drought? Photo by: Jan Vašek

Poverty reduction charity Oxfam is hoping a new iPhone app will rejuvenate mailer-weary donors and offer the  public a better glimpse into its global operations at a time when aid organizations in the U.K. are searching for new ways to generate public giving.

Overall charitable giving in Britain fell from 10.1 billion pounds ($12.2 billion) in 2015 to 9.6 billion pounds in 2016, according to a report by the Charities Aid Foundation, while public trust in U.K. charities fell to an all-time low in 2016, consistent with a downward but slowing overall trend toward less public giving. Alleged financial misconduct in the sector, concern over charity executives’ high salaries as well as tiresome fundraising tactics were all cited by survey takers as reasons for stagnated giving, a study conducted last year by the U.K. Charity Commission found.

In hopes of bringing donors closer to charity value chains, as well as offer a more efficient way to control and regulate giving, Oxfam this week launched the My Oxfam smartphone app, which allows users to monitor payments and donations, track sponsorship funds and respond quickly to new funding appeals in the wake of humanitarian disasters.

“Charities are striving to meet the public’s demand for a closer, more modern and responsive relationship with the charities they support,” Paul Vanag, Oxfam’s head of fundraising said in a statement. “My Oxfam provides a window on to the lives changed by our supporters’ generosity and allows users to control their giving from the palm of their hand.”

App designers also sought to give users a better understanding of Oxfam’s work in the field, incorporating aid worker video diaries and beneficiary testimonials into the app interface. The app will also track funding pledges and provide updates on humanitarian disasters.

Asked how much the app cost to develop, an Oxfam spokesperson did not respond in time for publication.

In the 2016 study of public confidence in charities, 66 percent of respondents said media coverage was the main reason for a decline in trust. The survey results came just after the closure and alleged financial misconduct of international charity Kids Company; a media campaign against the U.K. government’s commitment to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income on overseas aid; and ongoing media criticism of charity executive salaries.

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About the author

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    Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a U.K. Correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.