Modern philanthropy: technology and micro-donations - Move2Armenia

Modern Philanthropy: Technology and Micro-Giving

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Modern Philanthropy: Technology and Micro-Giving
18.03.2024
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The most affordable way to help those in need is a donation. To encourage more people to become donors and prove that even a small donation brings results, an Armenian micro donation app IMAST. We spoke with IMAST's head of marketing, David Mikaelyan, about how to become a philanthropist and what the contribution of application technologies is in this area.

David, is there a general portrait of donors?
The main behavioral model of donors is based on their life experiences. Anyone who was born in a remote village, but thanks to a good education has become one of the people, donates to the development of education. Parents of a sick child help other sick children. But there are also simply caring people who notice the problems of others and help.

Is it possible to distinguish types of donors?
Yes, for example, depending on the purpose. Some help those in need, while others actually help themselves. For example, they didn’t miss their grandmother on the road and want to “clean up their karma.”

What do you think about the second type? Such help is clearly not selfless.
No one has the right to forbid them to do good deeds, even if the person previously behaved ugly. In general, everyone goes to charity for the dopamine from good news and results after the assistance provided.

What is money most often transferred to?
World experience shows that people mainly donate to healthcare, with education taking second place.

I want to become a donor. Where do I begin?
The classic way is to find friends who are already helping. If there are no such people, then decide on the direction of charity and look for funds, subscribe to their social networks, monitor contributions - form an observation. Over time you will understand who to trust. It is important that NGOs are as transparent as possible and back up their words with deeds.

Then you need to choose a way to help. There is no standard here: some collect money in a bank account or in bitcoins, others on a card or in a piggy bank in a store. Or you can provide intellectual assistance: create and update websites, carry and deliver boxes of groceries, etc. With modern technology, charity is accessible to everyone.

Photo: Facebook IMAST

Who and how came the idea to create IMAST?
The founder of IMAST is Hayk Hayrapetyan. In 2020, during the 44-day war, he wanted to help his homeland, but did not know how and to whom to address help. He saw the same desire in a huge number of people, but they faced the same barriers. People were over-emotional and ended up helping anyone.

After selling GeekBrains, Gayk thought about meaning: what to spend time, energy and resources on - and decided to create IMAST (translated from Armenian as meaning). This is a mobile application for micro-donations that answers two key questions: who to help and how.

There are many meanings inside the application, you can choose one that is close to you and help.

Tell us in more detail what IMAST is doing to develop the charity sector in Armenia?
IMAST is the simplest way to help. Our mission is to build trust between donors and vetted nonprofits, proving that even micro-donations have a big impact in Armenia.

We are creating a community of micro-donors, united around meaning and strengthening Armenia for future generations. And we strive to create a culture where every user helps in just three clicks every month and sees the result of their contribution. It is important to teach donors to contribute systematically, by subscribing to projects, because many charitable organizations do not have stable funding, and systematic donations allow them to plan and work more effectively.

Photo: imast.am

It seems that there are a lot of foundations in Armenia. Do you have any idea how much?
An approximate figure is about 1,000 foundations and 3,500 public organizations for such a small country. This is a huge amount.

Surely not everyone works transparently?
Absolutely right. There were funds to which we offered assistance and placement in IMAST application. They all need help, so we have not encountered a single refusal. Then we requested a huge list of documents. They told us to our faces: “Yes, great, thank you very much, we’ll definitely send it,” but then they disappeared.

How many charities do you already work with?
There are currently 11 funds in the application, with five more being verified. This is a sufficient volume, and now it is more important for us to increase the number of donors and donations.

How do you know that a fund can be trusted?
A third-party legal organization conducts legal, financial and reputational audits for us and issues an independent opinion. They look at the state of the documentation, compliance with the laws of the Republic of Armenia, the history of project implementation, compliance with market prices... The verification methodology is described on website imast.am.

What would you answer to those who say: let the state help?
This is a very common misconception. The state is a bureaucratic machine that does not know how to quickly respond to crisis situations. And if states could solve all problems, then such developed and rich countries as the USA, Scandinavian countries, Europe, etc. would not have a single fund. I don’t think the state owes us everything. We must help the state and move forward together.

And if they say: why give money to charity, I need help myself?
You don't have to be Bill Gates to help. No matter how much you earn, a dollar can be donated. The main thing is action, not inaction. In addition, we generate a chain of goodness, and sooner or later it will close.

Share examples where small donations helped a big cause.
The first closed project is to help Poghos, a physics and chemistry teacher from Artsakh with ankylosing spondylitis. After September 19, 2023, he was forced to flee to Armenia and turned to the VIVA fund. Together we told his story, 15 people helped on 460$, and the project was closed in about a month.

We also have system projects that are not yet closed, but there is already an intermediate result. For example, assistance to Artsakh children with cerebral palsy: 102 donors have already collected 2 930$ and helped 29 children. We have collected 1,500$ for children with asthma, and 33 children have already received help. We have also already collected 3,350$ for painkillers for children with cancer - 67 children have been helped.

Photo: Facebook IMAST

What can be done to get more people involved in charity work?
Giving is an emotional action. If a person does not see his contribution daily, weekly, etc., he refuses to help. The more results we show, the more people join and feel this power.

The problem with charitable foundations is the fear of spending money on marketing, because, in the public’s understanding, they should help for free, without talking about problems and it is unclear where the money comes from. But if you invest effectively in marketing, more people will learn and help.

In IMAST, 80% of donations goes to the fund, 5% goes to cover transaction fees, and 15% to attract new audiences. So a donation has double power: you not only helped, you also attracted a second benefactor, etc. Contribution through micro-donations is only possible in a large active community.

Imagine that there is not a single Armenian in the world who needs help, your work is over. How do you see Armenia at this time?
It’s very difficult to imagine, but I really want to come to this. I think this will become possible when most, if not all, of the Armenians in the world return to their homeland and together, side by side, begin to develop it. By this time, we will have a huge community of caring and active people, and we will be able to do other cool and useful projects. We will have the power that can move mountains.

Let this time come one day, but for now we will stick together and help each other.

How to support the IMAST project and charities:

  1. Download the IMAST app, choose your favorite fund and transfer a donation to it.
  2. Tell your friends about the app so that as many people as possible can join the good cause.

On March 7, IMAST and the VIVA Foundation opened collection for emergency assistance to pregnant women from Artsakh. The IMAST app collects donations for essential items (details in project estimate), and the VIVA Foundation provides medical and psychological assistance.

Download IMAST and help with meaning!

Video: Facebook IMAST

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Modern Philanthropy: Technology and Micro-Giving
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