Digital Fundraising Conference – ‘Everything can be digital’ » Charity Digital News

Digital Fundraising Conference – ‘Everything can be digital’


On Monday 28th September we went to the Institute of Fundraising’s Digital Fundraising Conference in London. The event, which involved a host of expert speakers, celebrated the possibilities that digital fundraising has to offer and explored what organisations across the sector have been doing to raise awareness online.

Throughout the event – which was sponsored by JustGiving and Givergy – attendees took to social media keep the public up-to-date on each speaker’s presentation, using the hashtag #iofdigital.

Peter Lewis, chief executive at the Institute of fundraising, opened the event with a quick welcome before passing the microphone on to Marcus Missen, director of communications and fundraising at WaterAid, who went on to introduce each speaker and conduct Q&As with the audience after each talk.


The psychology of fundraising

The event kicked off with a talk on behavioural science from Warwick Business School’s Ed Gardiner and behavioural change and engagement specialist Claire McDonald.

Citing her work with charities such as CoppaFeel!, McDonald spoke about ways in which to integrate behaviour change into organisations. She also explored digital behaviour change interventions, and how they are influencing behaviour today.

To close her talk, she recommended that we all check out the video Dumb Ways to Die, which is an Australian public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne to promote rail safety. It is a good example of a campaign video going viral via social media.


‘Algorithms of the heart’

At the conference, Mike Bugembe, chief analytics officer at JustGiving, delved into the world of big data, explaining how data science is transforming the way charities can “personalise the support experience”.

In his presentation, Bugembe used the now famous image that compares the 2005 announcement of Pope Benedict XVI and the 2013 announcement of Pope Francis to highlight the impact that digital is having on everyday life.

He went to reference companies he thinks are using big data effectively, including Catapult Sports, the Black Dog Institute and Netflix.

He also praised Parkinson’s UK for its use of data in establishing donor relationships.


Attention first

David Pearce and Zach Moss from Dignity in Dying entitled their presentation “You can’t fundraise online without getting people’s attention first”.  The sentiment of the talk was:

Before you can ask someone for a gift you need to get their attention and then get them to trust you – this is where you content strategy comes in.”

Pearce, who is the director of fundraising and marketing at the charity, stressed that content strategy is the most important thing when it comes to increasing an organisation’s social media reach. He also advised that charities always think about the demographic when posting online. To him, “fundraising is campaigning”.


‘We are always connected’

According to Helena Martins, digital engagement manager at NDCS, there’s no such thing as being online/offline, there’s “only digital”.

Within her presentation, “Increase your digital fundraising with a watertight user journey”, she communicated the message that, these days, everything can be digital –even a charity shop can discover a digital presence.

She advised that organisations always:

  • Be humble and update strategies
  • Ensure they build “rewarding journeys across multi-channels”
  • Avoid sending emails from a “no-reply” address


Content’s key

The senior digital editor at Unicef, Paul Isaacs, and BuzzFeed’s director of brand partnerships, Jonathan Davies, both spoke at the event about how they have adapted their digital content strategies.

Each presentation gave the audience the opportunity to see first-hand what works and what doesn’t, and discover what the future holds for social content. For example, as a former journalist, Isaacs spoke about the way in which he has had to learn not to treat the Unicef website “like a magazine”, and make sure the organisation’s online copy is always concise, engaging and to the point.


Closing talks

To conclude the event, Sam Jeffers, executive strategy and creative director at Blue State Digital, took an audience on a tour of different, innovative campaigns both in and outside the sector.

In a talk entitled “Inspiration from across the sector”, Duane Raymond from FairSay – Making Campaigning Count; Laila Takeh, CMO, Raising IT; James Gadsby Peet, senior digital services manager at Cancer Research UK and David Eder, a consultant at Advanced Business Solutions each cherry-picked a charity campaign or idea that they wished they had thought of first.

For example, Takeh chose to talk about #UberGIVING – a campaign which involved Uber cars collecting items from the public to donate to Save the Children to help  the on-going refugee crisis.

Related reading

A headshot photograph of Jo Barnett, Executive Director of Virgin Money Giving.