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Digitization — Adapting In The Face Of a Crisis

Up until just a few years ago, if I had told anybody that shopping, learning, and socializing would all primarily take place online, I would be thought of as crazy. Yet here we are in 2020, where our malls remain shuttered as our students spend their second half of the school year online.

You may say that these changes are all temporary, merely a result of a global pandemic, but these changes are being accelerated to become a permanent part of our lives by a trend that’s slowly changed our society for over a decade: Digitization.

By: Jacob Birman, VP of Community Relations | jakie@getcardup.com | @JacobBirman

The Internet. We shop, we browse, we spend hours per day glued to our screens on social media. Slowly but surely, the internet has begun taking over our society, and not just through social media. Even before COVID-19, online shopping was already beginning to edge out classic retail giants, drawing more and more customers to avoid the mall and find the perfect clothes from their own homes. Supermarkets have already begun offering delivery options, allowing you to order fresh produce and have it delivered to your door within a few hours. Already the age of digitization has begun forcing all industries to start shifting their services online, leaving those that stick to traditional methods in the dust.

The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated this trend. With all of society forced to stay home, even the most traditional markets have been forced to transition online to stay afloat. And many industries have found new ways to move services that rely intrinsically on social interaction online.

One such market which I’ve seen firsthand make this change is the nonprofit industry. I’ve worked with nonprofits for a while now, and I know firsthand how centered many nonprofits are around the physicality of helping others. Whether it’s by sorting and packing food for needy families or organizing religious services for a community, nonprofits operate by keeping people close. So, with all their volunteers stuck inside, many nonprofits (especially smaller community-based companies) have struggled to stay afloat during the long months of this crisis.

As a result, many nonprofits have begun exploring new ways to incentivize donors online to help keep their favorite nonprofit alive. That is, maintaining their base’s desire to continue to support the nonprofit, even though at the moment they cannot offer their classic in-person services.

One such method of incentivizing donors many nonprofits have begun to utilize is the digital tribute card. In the traditional sense, a tribute card is a donation made addressed to a specific person or group in honor of an event or milestone. The donation is made out to a specific organization along with a message. The tribute card is then received by the nonprofit, who accepts the donation and then mails the tribute card’s message to the recipient along with information on the size of the donation.

The unique draw of the tribute card is that it is a physical, personalized, and much more meaningful alternative to the classic check donation. It offers a way for a donor to both honor somebody and support a nonprofit simultaneously. However, it is an intrinsically physical process, requiring manual labor to create and mail the card, and office work to file the donation and then mail the card to the recipient. And as a result of a crisis such as COVID-19 in which the office remains closed, one of the main methods of incentivizing donors is lost, leaving nonprofits even more financially burdened.

Therefore, many nonprofits have begun implementing a digitized version of the traditional tribute card. Some organizations have stitched together their own digital tribute card software, allowing their members to ‘create’ their own tribute card straight from their website. It’s fast, easy, and organizes all your submitted information in the form of a digital card the recipient receives in their email. However, it also requires you to submit a digital donation separately, and the end product features a rudimentary (and sometimes ugly) version of what used to be a beautifully personalized tribute card, turning away. many donors from the feature.

As a result, some nonprofits have begun turning to outside resources to ‘spice up’ their own digital version of the tribute card. One such resource is offered by the digital software company CardUP, whose services I’ve worked with in the past. CardUP offers a much more personalized version of the digital tribute card, drawing more donors using a much cleaner and more personal touch. Using CardUP’s software, nonprofits can design their own tribute card website, adding colors, pictures, and personal messages relating to the organizations. 

When a donor uses CardUP’s platform, the information they fill out is sent via email in the form of a digital tribute card. However, their software allows for a digital version of a real tribute card to be sent, including a specific color scheme, organization logo, and personal message. The card can also then be printed out by the recipient, allowing the digital card to also become physical without having to mail a physical copy.

By allowing nonprofits access to a much more personalized tribute card, the new style of card incentivizes donors to continue giving donations. Though organizations and their members are unable to interact personally, donors can still be incentivized to support their organization in the event of an occasion or milestone by having the option to send a personalized digital donation card.

Through their efforts to offer new or existing services online, nonprofits are managing to weather the storm of COVID-19 without succumbing to financial pressure. By adding software such as CardUP, organizations are able to adapt to the new harsh environment we find ourselves in while still offering their same services to their members.

Sadly, even by adapting to COVID-19 by moving online, many nonprofits will not be able to outlast this crisis. Some organizations, especially smaller, community-run nonprofits, just don’t have enough money to stay afloat after so long of being unable to offer their services. However, those that emerge from this crisis by adapting will soon find that their continued use of online services can help them in the long run. Even a process like digital tribute cards can help nonprofits continue to incentivize donors by offering a much easier alternative to the physical version. And, in the process, the traditional industry of nonprofits can join other industries in the age of modernization.

About the Author

Jacob Birman is the Vice President of Community Relations at CardUP. As a man with experience in the nonprofit field, Jacob knows the importance of these organizations for our communities. Jacob has spent the past 6 years working with nonprofits, including volunteer work at Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County and an office job at Congregation Rinat Yisrael. As a result, he has seen the impact of nonprofits on the lives of those surrounding them, improving their quality of life, and being there for them in their time of need. Jacob is committed to reaching more organizations and helping them financially with CardUP, ensuring that these nonprofits can, in turn, focus more on helping those who need it most.

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