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Donors Tracking Their Giving

24 January 2013 at 11:54 am
Staff Reporter
A new web-based reporting system providing detailed information about the impact of a donation as small as $2 has been launched by an Australian social enterprise, reports Pro Bono Australia journalist Jackie Hanafie.

Staff Reporter | 24 January 2013 at 11:54 am


Donors Tracking Their Giving
24 January 2013 at 11:54 am

A new web-based reporting system providing detailed information about the impact of a donation as small as $2 has been launched by an Australian social enterprise, reports Pro Bono Australia journalist Jackie Hanafie.

In the not-so-distant past, the idea of detailed charity reporting to the general public was almost unheard of, albeit high level figures in annual reports.

But, in what is being called an Australian first, a new web-based reporting system which provides detailed information about the impact of a donation as small as $2 has been launched by an Australian social enterprise.

Thankyou Water, a Melbourne-based social enterprise that sells bottled water in Australia to fund safe water projects in developing countries, says that its Track Your Impact reporting system will restore consumers' confidence in charity funding generally.

Launched last November, every bottle of Thankyou Water has a unique code on the label which can be entered into a custom-designed web app. Consumers can then access detailed information on the specific project their purchase will fund.

Purchasers are shown the GPS location coordinates of the project their purchase is assisting, current issues faced in the respective village, the total estimated number of people to be assisted and the exact water solution to be provided.

The smart phone-friendly system incorporates a social media element so users can share the experience on Twitter and Facebook.

Thankyou Water founder and managing director Daniel Flynn said the launch of its reporting system would result in a greater level of transparency and hopefully improve public perception of charity funding.

“From what we’ve seen, it seems that people, particularly young people, have lost faith in whether they actually can make a difference,” Flynn said.

“When we first started out, it shocked me to discover that to get a reasonable level of reporting from many major charities, you have to be a high net worth individual or high-level corporate donor,” he said.

While Thankyou Water declined to provide specific details on how many people have accessed the app, a spokesperson for the social enterprise said that they had seen a “great response” from consumers.

“It seems that people love the opportunity to actually see the impact they're making rather than just taking it at face value which is why we think the app has struck a chord with our audience,” the spokesperson said.

While the establishment of Australia’s first charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), will see charity reporting become standardised across the sector, charities and Not for Profits are not obligated to provide this level of reporting to donors or consumers.

The ACNC’S director of reporting and red tape reduction Jon Reid said that the ACNC encourages reporting that provides the public with information about how their donations are being utilised.

“However we also appreciate that charities of different sizes have different levels of administrative capacity, meaning that not all charities will be able to achieve innovative reporting systems,” Reid said.

While some Not for Profit organisations like World Vision provide detailed reports to child sponsors, these donors are generally long-term commitment donors and not once-off general consumers.

The ACNC says that from the end of the 2012/13 financial year the ACNC will require all registered charities to complete an annual information statement which will ask charities to provide information about the activities they performed over the previous 12-months.

Reid says that the exact requirements will be determined following consultation with the sector.

“Currently the ACNC Register only includes basic information about registered charities, however over time this will grow to include financial information and information about the activities of charities,” Reid said.

Thankyou Water’s Daniel Flynn said that the reporting system was the most complex project ever undertaken by his organisation and took a period of seven months to develop.

“We can see why something like this hasn’t been done on such a scale before – put simply, it’s hard work,” he said.

“Because of that, it’s always been my dream to give that information to the everyday Australian.”

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  • This is one of the coolest device I have ever seen. A tracking and reporting device like this would be really beneficial and encourage more and more people to join the fund raising team.

  • Chris Lee says:

    What a fantastic initiative which hopefully will set a trend, and embarass the big charities into doing something similar! While the information provided by the Impact Tracker is limited to village name, type of involvement, population and location, this shows a respect for contributors far ahead of others. The biggest potential benefit is getting the public to visit their website and learn about the problems which they are trying to help people with, and the solutions being used – so they build understanding and support. If a little (no disrespect) social enterprise can do this, the big INGO’s should readily be able to do something similar – and extend the idea to show quantified value/impact as well as. Congratulations to the Thankyou Water team!

  • This is a wonderful initiative and the creators should be congratulated.

    This is the way of the future, and while creating this kind of accountability is a huge job for a charity, the sooner that it is understood that this is the kind of thing that many (but not all) donors want, the better.

    The big disadvantage for charities is the amount of work involved, and also the lack of flexibility that ‘tied’ donations can bring. This can be difficult for a charity that, for example, deals with emergency work as they don’t always know exactly what the needs will be.

    But this is a marketing issue. For example, it costs an average of $x to place a homeless young person into housing, or the average cost of an hour of research, or $x to care for an abandoned puppy. It’s about being creative, rather than prescriptive.

    No intelligent donor expects that exact $10 they gave to go to a specific puppy, but being able to tell them stories of successful placement of puppies will reassure them that their donation is being well spent.

    It’s all about meeting the expectations of donors.


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