Are you making the most of your technology for fundraising? (Guest post)
Michelle Wright from Cause4 on why it’s time for us all to learn from industry best practice, train all staff on fundraising and make best use of technology to improve fundraising in the long-term
Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4, tells us why she feels fundraising should be every professional’s responsibility, as all of us benefit, personally and professionally, from improving our fundraising knowledge and strengthening our organisations financially.
The impact of austerity measures and Brexit, has driven many charities to the brink and placed their fundraisers under extreme pressure to find the money that they need to survive. But the pressure shouldn’t all be placed on one group of people. It should be a task that goes charity-wide, with all members of the team taking an ‘entrepreneurial’ approach to securing donations and generating revenue.
To sustain the services that any charity provides takes imagination during times when traditional routes to funding appear to be drying up or under threat. It’s time for us all to look at new business models, learn from industry best practice, train all staff on fundraising and make best use of technology to improve fundraising in the long term.
Make it easy to donate
Research from YouGov found that one in seven people walk away from a donation because they don’t carry cash with them. The cashless society needs to be embraced by the charity sector and some forward-thinking fundraisers are taking advantage of cashless donation solutions.
In April 21 this year, Angal announced a partnership with Thyngs to provide cashless donation solutions. This will allow supporters to donate an amount of their choosing in less than 15 seconds, through a tech-enabled collection box. Another trial in September 2016, with 11 charities taking part, used contactless points pre-set to a £2 donation. One charity that took part, NSPCC, reported that the average donation during the trial was £3.07 which compared favourably with their average cash donation of £1.
Between 2012 and 2016 there was a rise in the use of text donations, with PhonepayPlus, the UK phone-paid services regulator, reporting that giving to charity by text grew 6% to £122m.
Charity apps are being developed to engage with the public and make it easier to raise awareness to issues and stimulate donations. The UN World Food Programme’s ShareTheMeal app, for example, encourages people to make an on-the-spot donation of 50¢ through their phone to feed a child. The app has already brought in 12 million donations.
93% of donors said they used a smartphone or tablet to make a donation to a charity, according to researchers Dunham + Company. And, with all ages using mobile technology to make a charitable donation, it’s a channel that you don’t want to ignore.
The immediacy of interacting with the public through Smartphones also allows us to trial a variety of campaigns and to monitor the effectiveness of each. Many people respond to a prompt straight away and, although people can get distracted easily, if the information they’re getting is compelling and the donation process simple, the likelihood of a response is increased.
Gathering a groundswell of interest through crowd-funding and engaging individuals to help spread the word has helped a lot of charities achieve funding for large scale projects through many very small donations. Any crowdfunding site needs to be promoted – it’s not enough to leave it to work for itself. But, if you have a thriving social media presence that you can tap into, crowdfunding can help you gather up money from hundreds of individual sources.
Make your website work for you
Look at your website from an outsider’s perspective. Is it mobile-friendly? Does it download quickly enough? Make sure it’s clear what the money you’re asking for will be used for and that the information you’re sharing is up-to-date and interesting.
Do you have a ‘donate now’ button on your website? Is it easy to find? Charities need to ensure that the process is simple and doesn’t require the individual to wade through too many screens or share too much personal information which could turn them off. Driving people to your website will be an ongoing challenge but at least make sure that once they’re there they have an easy facility to donate.
Most online donation sites have a donation button that charities can embed in their website – as does PayPal. Even Facebook provides a ‘donate now’ button – so make sure your Facebook profile makes use of this. Having a fixed donation amount does make it easier for people – but don’t forget to include an ‘other amount’ option for those who want to give more.
Partnerships and alternative revenue streams
Fundraising shouldn’t be a solitary activity. Seek out potential partners and networks that support what you do and can help share your charity campaigns and send people to your online sites.
According to the latest figures from 2014-15, the largest source of revenue for NPOs was earned income which represented 53% of total income. Don’t be scared away from developing products or services that you can sell. Having popular products that represent your charity well can also be a great way of widening your audience.
Fundraising is a rewarding job that’s vital for the beneficiaries and the charities themselves. Fundraising should run through every aspect of your organisation. It’s time to start thinking widely about how to raise money for your worthy cause and to pick and choose the digital solutions that might best help.
In June 2017, Cause4 was named a National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England to run the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme in conjunction with the University of Leeds and the Arts Marketing Association.