The digital transformation of Children in Need

How Children in Need has evolved from the ‘Night of TV’ that people are familiar with, to a broader charity with a digital presence.

Paul Rubens | 14th Nov 19
Children in Need digital transformation

When this year’s BBC Children in Need telethon hits the screens on November 15, the charity will be hoping to smash its fundraising record set twelve months ago. In 2018 a staggering £50.6 million was raised during its five-hour show, with almost £35 million raised in the peak viewing period during the first two and a half hours.

This year hosts Tess Daly, Marvin and Rochelle Humes, and Rylan Clark-Neal will front the annual telethon which was first broadcast in 1980, and which has so far raised more than £1 billion to help disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 2,800 projects across the country.

In 2018 the charity actually achieved a fundraising total of just under £60 million, and that’s because while the BBC Children in Need telethon is a hugely important fundraising event for the charity, it is not the only time it solicits donations.


Digital channels

In fact, BBC Children In Need volunteers hold fundraising events throughout the year, and over the past decade, the charity has also turned to digital channels as well. It has done this to ensure that it can raise awareness in its cause as widely as possible, that it can accept donations by whatever payment methods potential donors want to use, whenever they want to, and that it does not rely exclusively on its annual telethon event.

One example of digital fundraising is a project the charity undertook with the Post Office, one of BBC Children in Need’s biggest fundraising partners. This enabled anyone to donate to the charity by tweeting @PostOffice using the hashtag #MakeMeAHero. They would then receive a direct message almost immediately, containing a link enabling them to make a donation of either £1, £3 or £5, which was added to their phone bill.


> See also: The Digital Transformation of Comic Relief


Social media following

BBC Children in Need has also joined GivetoView, a platform which allows volunteers to raise money by making a video and sharing it on the site. At a certain point in the video, after the volunteer has explained why the charity is important to them, the clip is paused so that viewers can make a donation before they can view the rest of the video.  For celebrities and anyone with a large social media following, GivetoView offers the potential to reach a large number of people and raise significant funds for BBC Children in Need.


Children In Need Pudsey the bear mascot. The public are being invited to give the fundraising hub £5 when they high-five Pudsey bear at London Underground stations.


Contactless and text giving

In the last few years, the popularity of contactless payments has skyrocketed, and on the London Underground, over 1 billion journeys will be paid for using the quick and simple payment system. To take advantage of this popularity, BBC Children in Need launched a fundraising drive last year which enabled travellers at 15 of the capital’s busiest stations to make a contactless donation to the charity by high-fiving Pudsey Bear, the Children in Need Mascot, with a contactless card.

The beauty of this system was that a large proportion of tube travellers have their contactless card to hand as they enter or leave a station, so they can make a contactless donation without having to break their stride – even if they are late for an appointment.

The popularity of text donations has also exploded over the last few years, and BBC Children in Need capitalised on this popularity by collecting almost £13 million during 2018 from supporters via their mobile phones. The charity was helped in this fundraising endeavour by the new £30 text giving option which was introduced last year to complement the existing £5, £10, and £20 price points.


> See also: Contactless technology by Fintech hits £2 million


Digital advertising

Although the BBC can and does promote the annual Children in Need telethon on its television and radio channels, the charity has also made extensive use of digital advertising in Google search results using pay per click ads with targeted keywords and phrases. The charity has also used Facebook ads in newsfeeds and instant articles, while on Instagram ads were placed in home feeds on mobile devices.

It has also used Twitter’s Promoted Tweets feature for fundraising,  and on YouTube, the charity launched an awareness campaign encouraging users to order a fundraising pack or buy Pudsey merchandise.

Thanks to BBC Children in Need’s 2019 fundraising efforts on television screens during its telethon, and its digital fundraising initiatives online throughout the year, the charity has an excellent chance to beat last year’s fundraising record and smash through the £60 million mark in 2019.