Fundraising for charities and not-for-profit sector has been dominated over the years by traditional methods such as street fundraising and direct mail.
In an ever more competitive market for donations to charitable causes, small and medium sized charities will need to find alternative means in order to survive.
Street fundraisers have never had a very good press. It seems a universally accepted challenge that on spotting the neon clad army of clipboards strung down the High Street, we pretend to notice a friend off in the distance, or suddenly receive an urgent phone call. They, seeing our avoidance manoeuvres resolutely give chase, armed with tear jerking tales and direct debit forms.
The issue is that face-to-face fundraising can potentially cause annoyance and it is dominated by just a few household names. Their renown makes it easier to elicit face-to-face donations and they can also afford the significant agency staff costs and commissions paid for donor sign-ups.
So, better maybe to focus all efforts entirely on Direct Mail? Maybe not. Recently the Charities Commission have clamped down on some charities who have ignored data protection laws, issuing heavy fines. While representing best practice, adhering to data protection laws and Charity Commission rules can be time-consuming and costly.
There will always be a place for the devoted teams of bucket shakers outside the local supermarket come rain or shine, or the dedicated fundraiser running a 10k resplendent in enormous gorilla suit. However, the challenge for smaller Charities is to find other means for communicating their message and eliciting and processing donations.
Smaller charities will need to get savvy about using advances in technology, understanding changes in consumer behaviour and finding the means to put this into effect. The solution almost certainly lies within the realm of Digital Marketing.
Anyone who has a web-site (and all of us do) has already entered the realm of digital but may not be using the channel to best effect.
Websites are a great way of setting up your ‘Digital’ stall but can also form a backdrop for a whole host of other digital tools, that once set up, can be maintained and controlled easily and inexpensively.
Digital marketing can be a cost-effective, controllable and reliable method of building and developing your brand.
Your website can easily assimilate affordable, proven and safe technology that allows you to link brand and specific campaign messages to a ‘call-to-action’ link. Donors can then safely make payments without you even noticing!
It is difficult to know with bucket collections who is giving and why – not so with digital. On-line forms can not only ensure compliance with data protection and Charities Commission rules, but also offer you a database of donors who will offer you information that you can shape, harvest and respond to.
Digital channels, and specifically social media, offers direct, 2-way communication with your supporters. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all obvious channels through which younger generation communicate (and some of the older!). Not only can you send instant communications, but they can respond with feedback and support.
A recent report published by the Institute of Fundraising, by Beth Kanter the social media ‘guru’ speaks of Generation Z (those born between 1995-2009):
“Gen Z want to work with charities that are transparent across social and show the impact of their work while giving supporters flexibility in how they raise money.”
So, if you’re wondering how to go about it, we’ve put together some starter steps to putting all the benefits mentioned so far into action with our:
Before launching into digital marketing, make sure you create a strategy that enables your digital efforts to fit in and work seamlessly with other aspects of your business model. Many not-for-profits have a variety of feeds, sites and fundraising methods all working independently of one another. A strategy will help you formulate your thinking, so that each tool is used purposefully, effectively and fits with your overall objective.
What do you really want to achieve? Where do you think your business model is lacking and holding you back from success? Is it brand building? Campaign awareness? Too many ideas can be unhelpful and can confuse your new strategy before it’s begun. Understanding your main objective before you start will help you to communicate your mission to your staff and be deliver it effectively.
Formulating a written strategy will give you a template from which to work from. It will also give a reference point for when the heated conversations of planning meetings are long forgotten. The ‘we haven’t got time’ excuse will set up your strategy to fail sooner rather than later. A written strategy with main objective highlighted, can be shortened down to a few punchy catchphrases and mantras. These can be easily understood and repeated by all your team.
It is very easy to allow your digital marketing to spiral into meaningless chatter across social media feeds. Yes, your followers want to hear from you – but only if you’ve got something to say! Ignoring this will be counterproductive and turn off the very audience that you have spent time attempting to engage.…
So, this all sounds great, but it’s not always so easy to put into practice!
If you want to dip your toe into ‘digital’ but not sure where to begin, then fear not. WebAdept have been producing award winning digital marketing strategies for 20 yrs. We have recently worked with charities such as Paul Sartori and Football Beyond Borders.
We would love to hear from you and put you on the path to digital success….
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