Charities explore the potential of digital at iFundraising conference

| 25th Sep 14

From 22nd-23rd September the Institute of Fundraising’s (IoF) iFundraising conference took place in Bloomsbury, London. Hundreds of charity professionals gathered together to explore the potential of digital fundraising in the sector. Charity Digital News was there on Monday to find out how charities can use technology and social media to improve ROI, engage donors and boost fundraising opportunities.

Martyn Robson, business development manager at Thames Reach spoke about how the homeless charity asked service users to carry the message of its campaign through video.  He said: “A two minute video of the charity’s CEO would not have the same effect. Personal case studies have a much stronger impact.”  The charity used vox pops, which are easy and inexpensive to make and work well on social media.

BevanFor its Christmas campaign, the charity posted a new video to its site every day of advent. This boosted visits to the website by 23% during the month, and fundraising was up 300% from the previous year. Retweets and shares were also up 37%. Robson stressed the importance of having a good landing page: “It’s one thing to get visitors to your charity website, but they won’t stay long if you don’t make it easy to donate or have bad content.”

“Find a way for service users to deliver the message,” agreed Chris James of The Scout Association, which has a new video campaign written, drawn and narrated by a six-year-old. He urged charities posting videos on social media to keep the length at 20-30 seconds to achieve maximum impact.

During his seminar, JustGiving’s Jonathan Waddingham shared his top tips for charities looking to grow audiences with mobile mobile spendingand social. He encouraged charities to be where people are, to understand how people are accessing their content and engaging with their cause. Knowing how people are getting to your site is also important, so looking at analytics is a must. By making giving mobile and shareable, charities can streamline the donation process for their supporters and boost fundraising opportunities. Waddingham also suggested that charities cut their content in half; to shrink images and not just fill space. And finally, with the new wave of fundraising that is coming to light, he advised charities to be prepared for the next viral trend, listen to it, and react accordingly.

Email marketingMarketing Manager at Alzheimer’s Research Carolyn Causton spoke about the success of its recent ‘value exchange’ email campaign. “Innovation is key; you can’t rely on what you’ve always done,” she said.

Esther Mathai of Word Vision UK demonstrated how video remains a powerful tool for charities.  The charity has introduced additional video material into its emails in order to “breathe new life into child sponsorship” and establish an emotional connection early on.

So what can charities take from the iFundraising conference? Be aware of your audience and which social channels they use and keep an ear to the ground in order to stay abreast of new developments in the sector.