How to grow your audience with mobile and social (Interview)

| 26th Sep 14

At the recent iFundraising conference in London, Jonathan Waddingham, product manager at JustGiving, shared his six top tips for charities looking to grow their audience with mobile and social. Charity Digital News was there to catch up with Jonathan afterwards.

What advice would you give to charities which don’t have a mobile strategy?

I don’t think it has to have as grand a title as a strategy; it doesn’t need to be a big document. For me, optimising for mobile is thinking about user experience; can supporters get to your website, can they see the key information, can they get to the donation path and can they donate. You really need to start simple and think, how many people are coming to your website from a mobile device, what’s the experience they are getting and how can you make it better. And remember that if people are interacting with you on social, they’re probably interacting on mobile, so the content you share should reflect that.

For a charity deciding what their social media strategy is going to be, what would your top tip be?

Get mobile giving sorted. If you don’t have the budget to build a mobile optimised donation flow, use a service that has one, like JustGiving. I’d actually not recommend building one yourselves because it’s hard, time consuming and as soon as you’ve built it, it will be out of date.

If you don’t have the resources to do that then set up a text code. Any charity can set up a text code for free at JustTextGiving. You can then promote that text code on your website so even if people can’t make a donation through their smartphone online, they can at least send a text and donate. I think that’s the first step.

Would you say there are any forgotten channels of communication that charities should be paying more attention to?

Email still remains the long lost sibling of digital fundraising and it continues to deliver very good open rates and click through rates. It’s very cheap and cost effective and you know you’re reaching the right people. The one thing people don’t often think about is that most people read their emails on their mobile phones. At JustGiving, 70% of emails we send are read on mobile phones. You’ve got to think about how your emails looks on a small screen, do they read well, do they use a lot of images that take ages to download. This could mean you run the risk of people deleting an email before reading it. Things like this are often forgotten in the rush to go out to Facebook and Twitter. Sure, you could have an impressive number of likes and followers but there are also 10,000 email addresses that you could be talking to.

What elements do you think made campaigns like #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge so successful?

I think the fact that they were authentic and came from the ground up. It wasn’t an idea which came from either charity, so people got involved without being cynical of it being a marketing ploy. People were doing this organically; it was fun to do and fun to nominate people. The whole system of social media allowed these ideas to spread very quickly. People don’t want to seem to be uncharitable on their social media profile, so there’s a lot about human psychology and wanting to be involved.

Do you think viral fundraising campaigns are the future of charity fundraising?

I can’t see any reason why not. After a few more campaigns like this there’s bound to be people saying, is this the end of viral fundraising, have we reached saturation point? That’s inevitable when something becomes successful and starts to be mainstream. But I think it’s here to stay.