Fundraising for the charitable 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 and charitable foundations will need to find alternative means in order to survive and thrive in the world of philanthropy.
The problem with traditional fundraising methods:
– Street fundraising
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 not only can face-to-face fundraising potentially cause annoyance/discomfort, but also that 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.
– Direct mail
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.
– Bucket shakers and fun runs
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.
Finding new solutions for smaller charities
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.
What does digital marketing offer 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 donation capture
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!
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):
“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:
4 Steps to Digital Marketing Success for Small and Medium Sized Charities:
Create a strategy.
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.
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 your 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 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 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….