From where PayPal sat, the world was a very generous place in the year 2019. According to data released this morning, donation processing had a record-breaking year on multiple fronts — as consumers proved an ongoing willingness to give both more and more often, to those in need worldwide.
The year itself was recording-breaking: In 2019, PayPal processed over $10 billion in charitable donations, an all-time high and the first time that number passed the ten-figure territory. A full 10 percent of that — over $1 billion — was donated during the month of December alone, another first for the payment-processing firm. And, perhaps its most surprising and pleasing milestone, PayPal’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications Franz Paasche told PYMNTS in a conversation shortly before the news went public, its GivingTuesday total hit a new record high of $106 million.
It is PayPal’s support, noted GivingTuesday Founder and CEO Asha Curran, that has been instrumental to the charitable organization’s international growth over the last seven years.
“PayPal has been a believer in GivingTuesday since its launch in 2012 and is one of our most creative and innovative partners, both in the U.S. and around the world,” Curran said.
That result is especially satisfying, Paasche noted, because as that $10 billion for the year result indicates, charitable giving is a far less seasonally focused phenomenon that it was even a decade ago. What they see in the global PayPal community, he noted, is that giving is now a year-round social phenomenon. Consumers and businesses are looking for opportunities to do their part and “be part of something bigger” year-round. And yet, he noted, that holiday season giving event still has pull, so people aren’t limiting their donations — they are just donating more during the holiday season and more often throughout the year.
“We are continually encouraged and surprised by the generosity of the overall PayPal community — our customers, our employees, our merchants, our partners in nonprofits and our employees. PayPal has participated in the GivingTuesday movement since it began in 2012. And in 2015 PayPal beat the Guinness World Record for the most money raised online for charity in 24 hours at $45.8 million,” Paasche told PYMNTS.
Less than a decade later, that amount has tripled and by all indications is set to keep on growing. Paasche said that in-house they refer to it as “the democratization of philanthropy,” and refers to their belief that PayPal can use its global size and scale as a platform to make it easier for customers to connect with trusted, vetted charitable providers worldwide and connect the global economy of charitable giving.
It ties directly, Paasche said, to PayPal’s commitment to the democratization of financial services worldwide — both for consumers and merchants and particularly in underserved communities. At its core, that means creating an access point to the global economy and the cost and security benefits of being able to engage with financial services digitally. Their ongoing expansion into charity and the growth in global giving it has helped to push, he said, points to another example of what a global payments platform can enable.
“And it has been a great experience for us to be able to help enable this kind of thing going forward, and in more ways, as we work with hundreds of thousands of campaigns to raise funds through the PayPal platform.”
Today, those efforts support charities with ongoing disaster relief work for fire-ravaged Australia. In this and similar situations like floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, he noted, what is critical is connecting to the government and charitable organizations and making sure that their funds raised through fundraising arrive quickly and whole.
The Red Cross is one of the charitable organizations PayPal has partnered with on disaster relief, and the Australian wildfires have been their most recent collaboration.
“We’re proud to partner with PayPal, whose generous support enabled us to raise funds over the holidays and year-round to help provide comfort and hope to people impacted by disasters and countless other crises. We’re thrilled to celebrate this PayPal milestone with their team,” said American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern.
Celebrations of the multiple philanthropic milestones passed in 2019 aside, Paasche noted, the focus is now on 2020 and beyond, with keeping the growth trend moving forward and building out additional capacity to make it even easier for consumers to give. Also, making it easier for charitable organizations that have a track record of getting good work done to raise and access the mission-critical funds they need. Much good has been done with the funds raised already, Paasche noted, but as the situation in Australia indicates, there is a lot more to be done, and a lot of consumers will be part of the solution.