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5 ways to develop a digital strategy that will supercharge your fundraising

In the wake of the newly launched Charity Digital Code of Practice, charities across the UK are being encouraged to think more strategically about how they can unlock the benefits of digital to boost their fundraising…

A man walks onto a stage with a microphone and draws a circle on a flipchart. And with that, Simon Sinek changed the world. His TED Talk on how leaders can define purpose through being able to answer the simple question ‘why’ has been viewed over 41 million times. To quote Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

It’s a brilliant, simple idea, but defining your ‘why’ is the Ingredient X at the heart of your strategy. It’s even more important for a digital fundraising strategy.

Consumer attention is precious

According to Ofcom, the average UK adult spends more than 40 hours a week online and is checking their smartphone every 12 minutes. But it’s getting harder and harder to get people’s attention. Everyone says that data is the new oil, but attention is the most precious thing in the world right now. We don’t just want people who will donate £10 and forget about it. We want donors who truly get behind our cause and who share our passion for what we do. 

So how do we attract them? It’s got to be more than living from campaign to campaign. The secret is to develop a smart, well thought out digital strategy that opens up new fundraising opportunities. Here’s how:

1. Understand the world your charity is in. When was the last time you sat down as a team and talked, I mean really talked, about the opportunities and risks that similar charities to yours face? When did you last think about the strengths and weaknesses your charity has in executing its digital fundraising? If you want to get everyone on the same page with change, you have to start with a consistent point of view. Why not get the fundraising team together with some colleagues from across the organisation and do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) exercise? You need to shape your fundraising to fit the world you are in, not how you want the world to be.

2. Acknowledge how donors’ behaviour has changed. Digital is disrupting everything around us. The latest UK giving report from CAF  highlighted how the majority of donors (51%) now give from time to time; less than half of that (25%) give monthly. A clear pattern has emerged about how different demographics give. Giving regularly (weekly or monthly) is significantly higher among the oldest age group (38% of those aged 65+), whilst giving rarely or never is especially high among the youngest (30% of those aged 16-24). So, what can charities do about this? The first step is to stop building all of your fundraising on the assumption that regular giving will continue in the same pattern forever. It won’t. How can you make your charity’s marketing really stand out so it can prime people to give when they are willing and able?

3. Know your purpose. In this blog, Paul de Gregorio, founder of Rally, talks about Toronto-based charity Sick Kids. They reinvented themselves as a performance brand, to the point where you might not necessarily clock that they are a charity when you first watch their videos. The cause is front and centre. Their well put together, compelling videos show how they help sick children and their families in a fresh, engaging and creative way. Like Sinek says, why do you do what you do? It’s only by answering this question that you can formulate a really strong case for support and conjure up the digital actions needed to bring it to life. That’s what Sick Kids did and they’ve gone on to raise millions of pounds

4. Get the basics right. A great, mobile-friendly website, landing pages that give donors a reason to give and make it as easy as possible (see Shelter for top notch examples) will help you deliver your strategy. And using social media to share the stories of the people you help is vital (see this great case study from Anthony Nolan). My top tip is that when you make the ask on social media, lead with what is important to your donors, not what is important to your charity. Macmillan  do this brilliantly and they get great results from their digital fundraising.

5. Have clear goals. Once you’ve looked at the data (which online channels get you the best results and why? Who are you reaching? What could you do differently?) set yourself some clear targets for what you want to achieve.

If you want to develop a digital strategy to help with your fundraising, remember it’s got to be a living document. Get ready to test, look at the data then learn, and improve what you do. It’s only by doing this that you will truly get to understand your donors, and how you can build strong relationships with them in an ever-changing world.

Zoe Amar is the Founder and Director of social enterprise and digital agency Zoe Amar Digital.

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