A Conversation with Ray Gary, CEO of iDonate

“Our work is challenging, but rewarding every time we learn about the impact our efforts have on increasing giving. We’re privileged to be a part of this movement.”

–Ray Gary

Q: Your bio explains how iDonate began. Philanthropy is something you are clearly very passionate about, especially for increasing the country’s giving rates, correct?

A: Absolutely. Giving USA puts out a giving report every year about overall charitable giving. Last year it was about $358 billion in total.

Q: That sounds like a lot!

A: Actually, if measured against GDP or personal disposable income, it’s just 2% of total giving. Giving rates have been flat for 50 to 60 years. That means as a population, we’ve been stuck at giving 2% since the 1960s! It’s time for a change and modern giving and tech innovation can get us there. That’s why we started this initiative, to move the needle from 2% to 4%.

Q: Why do you think we’ve been stuck for so long?

A: For one thing, people’s habits and expectations have changed. Today, empowered consumers expect their giving experience to be like their iTunes experience. It has to be as simple as calling an Uber. We remind nonprofits all the time that if you haven’t made giving as effortless as it is to buy a song you heard on iTunes, then today’s donors will simply move on.

Q: Is this where you think nonprofits are falling behind?

A: Yes! The consumer is not waiting for nonprofits to catch up, and instead nonprofits are missing key opportunities to connect with donors and prospective donors.

Q: How do you think nonprofits can do a better job at connecting with donors?

A: Nonprofits need to adopt much bolder marketing strategies. They need to get in the conversation, get in the social networks where the donors are. This is very important – nonprofits need to give donors great tools to be able to share their messages and create viral messages which will attract new donors and, in turn, increase giving.

Q: You believe consistency is key, especially when it comes to the giving process.

A: Yes. I mentioned this previously – a bad or difficult giving experience can potentially move your donors to abandon their effort to support your cause, even when it is something meaningful to them. Plus, they’ll be less likely to share your mission with their social networks if they believe it’s tedious and frustrating to make a donation.

Q: What are your thoughts on the shift in fundraising mentality over the last decade?

A: Nonprofits need to expand from their traditional fundraising mentality to a digital fundraising mentality. Digital fundraising is a very different approach, which means knowing about search engine optimization, optimizing their websites and knowing key areas to measure the success of campaign.

Q: Tell us where iDonate comes in?

A: We’ve created dozens of new innovative solutions including software and services that are simple to deploy and provide new ways of giving for donors – from cash to noncash, mobile, social and online, at events, in the home, virtually anywhere, any time. We’re making the work of taking and processing donations easier for the nonprofits, churches and ministries we serve.

Our work is challenging, but rewarding every time we learn about the impact our efforts have on increasing giving. We’re privileged to be a part of this movement to move the needle form 2% to 4%.