Why 2018 will be the year that social media donations take off

Vinay Nair, CEO at Lightful, discusses why charities need to set their 2018 social media donation plans in motion now

Guest Writer | 31st Jul 17

Vinay Nair, CEO at Lightful, discusses why charities need to set their 2018 social media donation plans in motion now

At the most recent Charity Governance Awards, an exciting initiative, I was honoured to judge a new category entitled ‘Embracing Digital’. We gave the gong to the very deserving Asthma UK, who impressed us with how they embedded digital to cut across every strand of their work.

But they weren’t the only ones to impress. Strikingly, the two other finalists represented very different parts of the sector – a massive national cultural institution, the Royal Opera House, and the wonderful community-led Raise the Roof Kenya.

This really brought home to us that digital technology and social media isn’t restricted by size or cause area – you don’t need to be small and nimble to keep up with the rapid changes in technology and you certainly don’t need hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers to make a digital impact.

You just have to go for it.

Organisations using social media get passionate about why it is an effective fundraising tool – being able to regularly engage with supporters (and prospective supporters) in their homestead of choice, often on mobile, and removing a sense of “interrupting them”; personalising those relationships but being able to do so at scale; and, with some effective planning and programming, leading to reduced donor acquisition costs.

Other organisations less familiar are turning their eye to social media, in order to better understand it, not least due to pressures on their other fundraising sources. Interestingly, social media can help boost workflows across multiple teams like Comms, Events and Fundraising, rather than acting as an area that’s standalone from the others.

When it comes to social media donations, one of the most crucial building blocks is storytelling – so getting your Comms and stories right in order to drive success. With this comes some great news: our sector has some of the best stories to tell! Great causes should be amplifying stories from their staff, their events, their beneficiaries, and sharing what they do and how they do it (it’s worth noting as well, that private corporations often bring in expensive consultants to help them identify stories and even which ones they can share!).


Effective campaigns

Building effective campaigns with these stories is one of the keys of success, as we found when working with The Soldier’s Charity.

The combination of a user-friendly CRM and dashboards for their P2P fundraisers meant The Soldiers’ Charity were able to give their fundraisers personal support and, importantly, connect with them for future campaigns. Because of this technology, and also their integration with the major social media platforms, The Soldiers’ Charity freed up time spent on administrative tasks, and instead focused on strategy and personal engagement with both fundraisers and supporters. The new software and analysis tool enabled a data driven approach, giving the organisation a strong platform to continue to build on for future campaigns.

The bespoke services we conducted with The Soldiers’ Charity and our own social media management platform also form part of the growing swathe of help that is out there – from the Facebook Donate Button to the $10,000/monthly Google Ad Grant, there are a lot of opportunities for organisations to start using social media platforms and digital tools more strategically.

So, what is exciting about events such as the Charity Governance Awards and also the recent IOF Convention, is that success is now begetting success; more and more charities are demonstrating the ROI of social. This momentum is building and we predict that 2018 will be the year when it really takes off, with opportunities cascading quickly across the sector.

And yet as I write this, even before departing on my summer holidays, I wonder if 2017 might still have some nice surprises for us. This is because, as reluctant as I am to talk about Christmas in July, there are a lot of great causes planning their post-summer and Christmas campaigns. It’s going to be an exciting few months, with a lot of great stories to be shared, which will resonate with, and be amplified by supporters. So this year may actually go out with a bit of a bang, too.

The time is now, and the opportunity exists.

You just have to go for it.