Digital trends for charities in 2019
2019 belongs to an era which is increasingly dominated by digital technology. For many organisations technology plays a critical part in the day-today-day running of the business. However, according to Ed Gairdner, the chief operating officer at the charity giving platform The Good Exchange, non-profit organisations are 5-10 years behind commercial organisations in their embrace of the digital revolution.
Unfortunately for these charities, there is no denying the fact that technology in now at the core of the modern world and in order for them to simply survive, let alone thrive, they are being forced to reshape, transform and embrace these new digital trends.
For the larger, well known, charitable organisations such as the British Heart Foundation, incorporating new digital technology, such as artificial intelligence, to interact with their supporters and raise funds is no big feat as they have the resources to easily adapt. However, for smaller, less established non-profit organisations, embracing digital trends can often pose as a challenge. With the biggest challenge being how to navigate the digital minefield and where to focus their, often limited, resources.
For many charities their core supporters are mainly from the older demographic, this means that it is imperative for them to reach new audiences. However, there is a new issue that has recently been highlighted and is making the acquisition of new supporters increasingly difficult; this is the issue of trust.
People are now asking questions relating to where and how their money is being spent. Supporters want to know that they are truly making a difference. This means that charities now have to be completely transparent and allow the public to see what they are doing and how they are distributing their donations.
This is where digital marketing makes an entrance. Digital marketing is the core channel to building relationships with supporters, creating brand awareness and understanding donor behaviour. However, a report issued by Salesforce.org, focusing on European charities, found that 96% of non-profit organisations believe they are not making the most of digital marketing.
Social media gives charities massive opportunity to engage with their supporters and acquire new supporters from all around the world. With social media charities can start conversations, inspire and educate. By using live video streaming they can instantly communicate to a worldwide audience what ongoing issues there are all around the world, where help is needed and what steps they are taking to make a difference. By incorporating and encouraging the use of account tags and hashtags into their content, charities can inspire members of the public, giving them the opportunity to become advocates for their charity and spread awareness. By using Twitters Q&A, they can build trust with potential supporters, answering important questions and providing key information.
In 2018, Facebook made its Workplace by Facebook tool free for all charities worldwide. This tool allows non-profit organisations to increase awareness, showcase the work that they are doing and share real-time videos and pictures with employees, all around the world. By using this tool WWF saw a 200% increase in employee engagement and were able to gain valuable information and insights from many of their employees worldwide.
Facebook also offers the birthday fundraiser tool; this new social media technology allows charities to empower their supporters, by including them in their fundraising activities and using them to help spread the word about their cause.
Analytics is an aspect of digital marketing that allows organisations to use information about their supporters, to build deeper relationships and communicate with them on a more personal level. Gaining insight into; where a donation has come from, what areas of their website are more popular, where supporters are located, what social media content receives the most engagement (likes, comments, shares etc), what email marketing campaign subject lines lead to higher open rates and what content leads to higher click rates, will help charities to tailor their communications. By fully utilising tools such as Google analytics, non-profit organisations can better understand their donors’ behaviours and preferences. This valuable information can then be used to ensure the right content, is sent to the right audience, at the right time and place, which will ultimately lead to higher levels of engagement and hopefully more donations.
Funds are often massively limited for non-profit organisations, therefore, they must ensure that they fully explore and utilise free and low-cost resources that offer information, guidance and training. There are many resources available online that can provide non-profits with advice and information, such as; The Charity Digital Code of Practice, CAST – Digital Design Principles, Small Charities Coalition, Charity IT Association, Media Trust and Nonprofit Tech for Good. There are also websites, such as; Platypus Digital, The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), Skills Platform, Alidade and NVCO’s Knowhow Nonprofit, that not only offer advice or information, but also training and online toolkits that can be used to by charities to boost their digital skills and knowledge.
Additionally, Salesforce.org found when conducting their survey, that although many charities are eligible for The Google Ads Grant of up to $10,000 worth of advertising every month, only 40% of charities are using paid search marketing campaigns. By using Google ads, organisations can boost the traffic to their websites and drive potential donors to specific pages. In order for paid search campaigns to be effective, organisations should be creative and think out of the box in regards to what they think potential donors will search for when wanting to support their chosen cause.
As for most organisations GDPR and the many constraints it imposes have no doubt created many challenges for charities, however, as the well known proverb says ‘when life gives you lemons…. spring clean your data’. By using GDPR as an opportunity rather than seeing it as a hindrance, non-profit organisations can clear out data that is no longer any use to them and highlight who their loyal and most engaging supporters are. Consequently by auditing their data regularly, organisations will not only ensure their data is compliant, they will also gain important insights into where to focus their resources.