Each year more than 40,000 runners participate in the annual London Marathon. The personal challenge of completing the gruelling course is of course one of the attractions but raising money for charitable causes is another.
Twenty years ago, this involved going around the office or the neighbours with a clipboard and a sheet asking friends and family for contributions and then collecting the money after the feat was achieved.
Today, this can be done online. Not only is it easier for people to contribute and for fundraisers to collect it, the power of the web and social media mean projects can find supporters beyond a traditional social circle.
JustGiving launched in 2001 with the aim of transforming a time consuming and inefficient task into one that was simpler to perform – and ultimately generate more cash for good causes. And now the organisation wants to take this mission even further.
“What we did was digitise [fundraising],” said Mike Mugembe, chief analytics officer at JustGiving. We did something online that allowed to you to link to friends, set a target and share a story.
“At this time the world was web 1.0 [and] Google was a baby. What we were able to do was to get people to [get the support of] their friends through secure transactions. Since then, the web has transformed with new apps and social media.”
“We’re redesigning our whole website to incorporate social. What we wanted people to do was have interactions people were familiar with. This got us the point where we had more than 20 million people on our platform. We were able to raise $4 billion for the great causes out there.
“But despite strong numbers we want to grow. That’s why we embraced some of these transformations: big data and data science. If we could harness this data and build algorithms and equations we could deliver some of those promises.”
The application of big data is a recognition that people want to contribute to causes beyond running marathons. Some might ask for donations rather than a wedding gift, while other simply want to spread the message.
Big Data will help JustGiving understand fundraisers or donors so it knows how to engage them.
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