Right now in digital charity | npENGAGE

Right now in digital charity

By on Nov 22, 2011

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Yesterday I went along to the Mobile and Digital Conference in London, organised by Fundraising magazine, to hear first-hand about how, in a fast-changing world, charities are using social, mobile and digital media to reach new audiences and raise more money.

So what were some of the main themes from the day?

  • Use social media to mobilise and engage, not just take money. As Twestival founder Amanda Rose told us, $264,000 wasn’t raised in one day by them on Twitter. Twitter was just a channel to mobilise people to give up their time to create real offline fundraising events. According to the 2011 Millennial Donors survey, 65% of people surveyed want to find guides on charity websites on how their support could make a difference and 52% want to learn about volunteer opportunities. So capture people’s attention, show them how they can contribute and then show them, through video and photos, how their contributions have helped.
  • Empower your staff and supporters to use social media – both David Barker of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Bertie Bosredon of Breast Cancer Care talked about how their organisations use internal awards to encourage staff participation in spreading the word about their missions. Breast Cancer Care have also encouraged user generated content, driving people to their Flickr, Vimeo and Facebook pages to create a richer online experience
  • Be bold – Charles Bosher shared how Beatbullying’s virtual event The Big March took a simple concept, used strong visuals that would both appeal to their core target audience of children and be consistent with their Cyber Mentors brand and used corporate partners – from Google and Facebook to MTV to take their message wide. Not only did they achieve their goal of influencing the political agenda around bullying but raised over £200,000 in doing so. I can’t wait to see next year’s planned global march on UN!
  • Remember to integrate your efforts. When small regional charity Acorns wanted to maximise their partnership with Aston Villa Football Club to reach that elusive male 16-24 fundraising audience, they broadcast a simple message (text donate £3 during one football match) via social media, PR activity, celebrity shout-outs, display boards, print and volunteers to create a coordinated ask that led to 2124 donations on just one day.
  • Don’t measure success of mobile Apps just by the £s raised. DePaul’s multi award-winning and much talked about iHobo App actually raised just £10,000 in direct donations at the time, but they have taken a longer term view. They now have a rich database of new potential donors that they can engage in the longer term.
  • “Play, test, learn, succeed” – those were the words of Adrian Cockle of WWF, whose organisation continually tests and evolves its fundraising approaches with intriguing results (how else would they know that giving away freebie stickers with a campaigning ask actually reduces sign-up rates!).

But perhaps one of the most thought-provoking part of the day was the panel session on what the web will look like in 2015. After what has been a decade of enormous change in the way people interact online and via mobile, all agreed that much more change is on the cards. Spring founder Steve Bridger and MissionFish CEO Nick Aldridge both predict a huge shift in expectations of future generations, with people expecting to receive tailored experiences for their specific devices and to have more direct conversational, rather than transactional relationships. So what can charities do to embrace the future?

I think it all comes down to engagement. Focus on that first, without assuming people will donate to you immediately. Talk to your supporters, find out their interests and engage with them across their preferred channels – whether offline, online, via their mobile or a combination of all of the above.  Show the impact of what you do to keep people supportive of your cause. Finally, don’t expect to do it all yourself – unite people behind your cause and foster champion and advocates who will spread your message for you.

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