Lockdown has seen charities review from top to bottom how they fundraise. Digital is now a major channel replacing, by necessity, street fundraising, large scale events, shops and many other traditional approaches to individual giving.
For many charities the move to digital has been a big step into an unknown world. This article provides examples of how small and large charities are adapting to the new digital world.
Digital fundraising platform DONATE has seen a thirty times increase in donations and a thirty two percent increase in new charity registrations from March-June on the year before, showing that charities really are now joining the digital revolution.
Why go digital with your fundraising? Here are six reasons.
Digital fundraising speeds up the process of giving, allowing donations to be made and delivered in seconds. No more cash to be counted, accounted for, banked or made secure.
With smartphones, donations can be made to a cause in just a few clicks, setting a real precedent for the way many of us now work. The way we pay has changed dramatically, even before lockdown, as the country grows tired of handling cash and looks to easier ways of spending and donating - like contactless and digital giving.
Many charities and charitable organisations that have never had the need to fundraise digitally are now exploring their options, particularly those in the religious sector who have had no access to their religious buildings since March and as a result have seen a decline in donations received.
St Peter’s Church in Yateley decided to join DONATE in January in order to support their traditional fundraising methods.
Maureen King, Parish Administrator at St Peter’s Yateley says “We started to use DONATE at St Peter’s because we saw it as a great new channel for one-off giving in order to support the church.”
Since joining, the church has also set up a Coronavirus response fund which has raised £1,700 for the community.
For many charities, digital fundraising has become a necessity as long-term fundraising methods are currently on hold.
Big Issue North have had to dramatically alter their fundraising strategies due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the effect it has had on street sales of the magazine. As a result, the charity has set up a Hardship Fund in order to support their vendors and provide an income for them whilst they are out of work.
Bronte Shiltz at Big Issue North says “Many of our vendors are vulnerable, there is a lot of worry about the lifting of lockdown. Almost all of our vendors are, understandably, desperate to return to work, so as well as relying on physical donations from members of the public, donations to our hardship fund, primarily consisting of those made through DONATE, will be vital in facilitating a safe return to work.
“For some vendors, however, returning to work in any capacity will not be safe for the foreseeable future, so the hardship fund will also be vital in continuing to support vendors in the weeks and months to come.”
Charities like the Big Issue North who support the vulnerable have seen a sustained and sizeable response to their fundraising campaigns, They are, after all, on the frontline in supporting those in need.
3. Keeping with the times
Many charities who benefitted from donations through traditional methods have been rethinking how they fundraise, with many joining digital fundraising platforms like DONATE for the first time.
National charity, Band of Builders, is run by tradespeople for tradespeople. The charity joined DONATE with no previous digital fundraising experience and have set up some amazing fundraising campaigns, including campouts, The Big Shave for Cancer and various sporting challenges.
The charity was founded by Adam Smith to help his friend Keith Ellick after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The charity prides itself on what can be achieved through people pulling together, and supporting each other in offering support, projects, advice and a community.
Kelly Taylor from Band of Builders said “We joined DONATE as we were looking at ways we could further fundraise and through online donations we’ve been able to support those in the construction community beyond our expectations.”
4. Reaching new audiences
Digital provides a route, like the famous Heineken advert, to reach parts of the world that other fundraising cannot reach. The Theatre Royal Wakefield knew that, without physical audiences, they had to find a new way to fundraise. Using DONATE they reached out on social media and found not only citizens who lived in Wakefield but also reached those that had Wakefield roots but had moved away. In both instances these supporters saw the theatre as an essential pillar of the local community. For Sarah Shooter, Head of Development at Theatre Royal Wakefield the ability for people to donate by text at varying levels was a key factor to its success.
“DONATE has allowed us as a charity to bring the community together. The money we’ve raised through the DONATE platform will go directly back into the local community to support our work with the young and old, so it's a vital source of income for us.”
Theatre Royal now intends to continue to raise through text giving even when the lockdown ends and add such services as text raffles and auctions to engage these new audiences.
5. New fundraising potential: online auctions
Online auctions present new and exciting ways to raise much needed funds. Success is built on money-cannot-buy items (such as behind the scene tours and signed memorabilia) as well as ensuring the auction is well publicised across social media and to supporters. Ensure also that you keep the social channels buzzing by celebrating recent bids.
Food4Heroes is a charitable organisation born out of a necessity. Inspired by a nurse at a hospital in Huddersfield who struggled to find food in stores after a 12-hour shift at the start of the crisis, Food4Heroes came to be.
The not-for-profit organisation provides free, healthy and nutritious meals to frontline NHS staff, and to support their efforts they recently hosted an online auction packed full of 45 incredible lots, such as; dinner at The Ritz for six and Monaco Grand Prix tickets for two.
Amanda Guest, Co-Founder of Food4Heroes said “Setting up an online auction meant that we could make the most out of everyone being at home and online. We’ve had incredible support from so many since we founded Food4Heroes in March and have raised an incredible £26,958 through our online auction.
“We’d recommend all charities and charitable organisations look at setting up an online auction and having a virtual party to celebrate the incredible work of frontline workers.”
Food4Heroes went one step further and organised a VIP party on Zoom for the final hour of the auction to drive bids. Hosted by MC Roger Dakin and joined by cricketer and broadcaster Phil Tufnell, they were joined by a magician and Farhad Heydari for a cocktail masterclass. The zoom party was open to 100 VIP guests and drove additional bids in the last hour.
6. The potential for viral campaigns
Unlike offline fundraising, digital campaigns have the opportunity to go viral, benefitting from the power of the people getting behind a worthy cause. To give your campaign the best chance of going viral, think about celebrity endorsement, ensure you provide easy opportunities for donors to show and talk about their support, provide easy video clips to share and use social channels to celebrate and thank donors. .
The Intensive Care Society saw this with their ICUHELP campaign which to date has raised £156,000 and was backed by such huge celebrities as Dame Helen Mirren, propelling it into the mainstream public eye. Whilst such celebrity endorsement is a massive boost it isn’t necessary for a campaign to catch our attention. Captain Tom’s garden walk being just the latest example.
St Cadoc’s Youth Club were gifted two tickets to a UEFA cup final. Through one post on Instagram by Liverpool player, Andrew Robertson over 4000 people participated in the text-raffle tickets raising £20,000 for the youth club. The viral nature of the tickets amongst Liverpool fans drove the campaign.
For so many charities, necessity is the mother of digital invention opening up whole new revenue streams for them. Indeed the huge increases in giving across the DONATE platform demonstrates not only how digital giving has taken off across the sector but also the generosity of the UK public in these times of need.
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