“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” Beth Kanter
Fundraising and branding for the charitable sector has been dominated over the years by traditional methods such as street fundraising and direct mail. However, in an ever more competitive market for donations, small and medium sized charities need to find alternative means to remain competitive. Digital marketing offers a real means for these third sector organisations to gain a competitive edge – so here’s the low down!
Traditional fundraising by charities
Street fundraisers have never had a very good press. This aside, the problem for the majority of charities is the domination of this means by a few big ‘household names’. These big charities can afford the significant upfront agency costs and commissions that go with creating a highly visible brand, and that brand recognition makes it easier to prompt face-to-face donations in the street.
Direct Mail campaigns on the other hand have also had their bad press recently. Just last December the Charity Commission came down hard on a number of charities for failing to comply with data protection laws, and issued heavy fines. While representing best practice, the costs of adhering to data protection laws and the Charity Commission rules and guidance on direct marketing are time-consuming and costly.
There of course will always be a place for the devoted teams of bucket shakers outside your local supermarket come rain or shine, or the dedicated fundraiser running a 10k in a gorilla suit. However, the challenge for smaller Charities is to find other means for communicating their message and eliciting and processing donations. The answer is to be smarter and more savvy about using advances in technology, understanding changes in consumer behaviour and finding channels with which to put this information into good effect. The answer is Digital Marketing.
So, what does Digital Marketing offer?
Digital marketing for charities
- Effective Brand Building.
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.
- Effective Fundraising Tool.
Affordable, proven and safe technology that allows you to link brand and specific campaign messages to a ‘call-to-action’ link. Donors can safely make payments without you even noticing!
- Effective data-capture.
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.
- Effective 2-way communication.
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): “If you want to reach out to them you have to speak their language. 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.”
Get started on your digital marketing
So, wondering how? Here are 4 tips on how to get started on your digital journey:
- Create a strategy.
Before launching into the world of Digital, make sure you have think strategically so that whatever you do fits in and works seamlessly with all other arms of your business model. Too many charities have various feeds, sites and fundraising methods that are all working independently of one another. A strategy will help you formulate thoughts so that each tool is used purposefully and effectively and fits with your overall objective.
- Identify your main 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 form a meaningful strategy that can be communicated to all staff and be delivered effectively.
- Write it down!
Formulating a written strategy will give you a template from which to work from – and give reference point when the heated conversations of the strategy meeting 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 – easily understood and repeated by all your team.
- Control your Digital Marketing output.
It is very easy to allow your Digital Marketing strategy quickly spiral into a cluster of meaningless chatter and spam across social media feeds. Yes, your followers want to hear from you – but only if you’ve got something to say! Ignoring this will prove to be counterproductive and will turn off the very audience that you have spent time attempting to engage.…
So, this all sounds great, but not always so easy to put into practice! If you want to dip your toe into Digital but are not sure where to begin, WebAdept have been producing Digital Marketing Strategies for 20 yrs and 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….