June 17, 2013 | Categories Fundraising Strategies, Nonprofit News, Nonprofit Technology

Google One Today — Micro-donations could add-up, but limited ability to grow your constituency

Google One Microdonations

What is Google’s One Today App?

One Today is a new app from Google. It is just being released for pilot testing on Android devices at this point, but I think it presents some very interesting potential to popularize micro-donations and perhaps even more importantly increase awareness of your non-profit’s mission. Download the app and every day you will be presented with a non-profit project and have the opportunity to make a $1 donation. You can’t donate more than $1 directly, but One Today allows you to “amplify” your impact by offering to share your interest in the cause with your social media connections by offering to “match” their $1 donation, up to a dollar limit that you specify.

What’s in it for Google?

The website suggests that it is just part of Google’s commitment to support non-profits. I don’t doubt that Google’s motivation is in part philanthropic, but One Today micro-donations are made via Google Wallet. Google Wallet is a mobile electronic payment system that Google introduced in 2011 and which has been struggling to gain usage and I suspect Google also hopes that One Today could help spur adoption.

Regardless of their motivation, I’m very enthusiastic about using technology to create a modern version of the Salvation Army’s kettle or that check-out donation jar. One that eliminates the hassles and risks of giving cash and that doesn’t incur the very heavy fees that are typically associated with Text-To-Give donations. Will a sufficient number of charitably-minded people download and use the app? That remains to be seen, but I for one am looking forward to trying the app when it becomes available for my iPhone.

What is the catch?

Note that the One Today donations, less a quite reasonable 1.9% transaction fee, are distributed to the nonprofit through an arrangement Google has with Network For Good. Unfortunately, the non-profit will not receive any information about the donor. To me, this is really a major weakness, since the opportunity to thank the donor and provide them an opportunity to stay informed about the organization’s initiatives is essential, for there to be any real hope of converting that $1 donation into a sustainable and long-term supporter of your organization.

Written by Amanda Foran
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