The rise of digital fundraising technology is changing the way charities fundraise, bringing with it plenty of new opportunities for organisations interested in embracing its potential.
It is estimated that 7.2% of fundraising in 2016 came from online giving, a percentage that is expected to increase over the coming years.
More charities are exploring digital fundraising strategies in an attempt to:
Digital fundraising can be a solution to each of these challenges, and many charities and nonprofits have already proved that highly engaging digital campaigns can lead to greater fundraising success.
This post looks at five successful fundraising campaigns, analysing how digital fundraising technology can help a charity increase donations, find new donors and extend the reach of a campaign.
Just like many other charities, BBC Children in Need generates a lot of interest from its supporters by encouraging them to participate in fundraising challenges. Some of these are broadcast on TV, grabbing hold of the BBC's dedicated viewer community, however some of them are also featured on the charity's Instagram channel through their stories content.
By diversifying the channels they use, BBC Children In Need can extend the impact of their efforts to a wider supporter base. The charity is also able to feature their fundraising challenges for a prolonged period of time, taking their followers on a more indepth journey, as well as providing a behind the scenes feel. This allows those who are really connected to the challenges to follow along much more closely with something they feel passionate about - engaging with that content on a daily, or even hourly, basis. Perhaps even going as far as sharing that content with their own followers, helping to generate even more interest in the channel's content.
The use of channels, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, allow charities to reach a wider audience, all of which can go a very long way to increasing both the number of donors an the income raised to a digital campaign.
Blue Cross were looking for a creative way to integrate the rise of contactless payments, which has quickly become a preferred method of payment for many – including younger consumers.
To help bring their fundraising inline with current consumer trends, they came up with ‘pat and tap’ using their ‘in the field’ canines to encourage their donors to make an instant donation. Dogs and volunteers attend several events across the UK and anyone can make a £2 donation in a fast and efficient way.
This innovative idea maximises the power of contactless payments, which increased both donations and awareness among animal lovers. It serves as a good reminder of the importance of following the latest giving trends.
Save the Children worked with Iris Nursery to create a physical donation button named the ‘Give Button’. The goal is to facilitate donations through a creative and fun process. Donors are only required to sign up once, and then they can actively contribute as many times as they want, whenever they want.
The button is connected to the Internet through mobile data and it aims to reduce donor churn caused by complicated donation forms. It takes into account how successful fundraising technology has to feel effortless and surpass expectations. Moreover, it manages to tap into a young audience that prefers the ease and the satisfaction of real-time donations, comparing to direct transfers and other traditional types of payment.
The use of technology in innovative and reactive ways serves as an ideal testing ground for charities, with the ultimate goal being to see an increase in donations.
Cancer Research UK has used technology to innovate their fundraising, by introducing smart benches that accept £2 donations through contactless payment.
The project, a collaboration with Strawberry Energy and MKTG, bridges digital fundraising with technology to create an appealing way to increase donations.
Contactless payment is not new for Cancer Research UK, but their focus on new technologies allows them to come up with creative ways to build engagement and improve the donor journey through the latest digital trends.
The campaign was part of awareness-raising for World Cancer Day and it initially launched ten smart benches throughout London. As well as accepting contactless payment for donations, the benches also offer free wi-fi access and charging ports, and they have built-in sensors that inform people about the air quality in real time.
People are also able to check the quality of the air through Strawberry Energy’s smartphone app, offering another interesting way to blend smart devices with fundraising.
Online fundraising does not only benefit from the latest technologies, but also from a good user experience in an organisation’s site.
A good donor journey facilitates an increase in donations, by meshing with donors’ habits at every single step of each visit. This leads to a reduced churn and an increase in conversions, a result that Alzheimer’s Society noticed after improving their own donors’ online experience.
Alzheimer’s Society decided to optimise their donors’ experience to drive an increase in online giving following research into their users’ browsing habits and reactions. Thus, they went for a new front and back-end change in their site, favouring tailored and campaign-specific donor journeys for an improved experience.
Moreover, they offered different payment options, including PayPal and Apple Pay, becoming one of the first charities to try Apple’s payment solution in 2017.
The process of learning more about their donors and rebranding and redesigning their site was complete after a series of A/B tests, aiming to increase their online donations. Their idea to create the right digital infrastructure to support an optimised donor journey led to a 72% increase in donations, with the conversion rate rising from 22% to 65%.
What we can learn from this case is that even with a smaller team and budget, it is important to understand donors’ habits when visiting your site, helping them proceed to a donation as smoothly as possible. Sometimes even small changes to the landing page or the messaging can increase conversions.
Digital fundraising can drive an increase in donations for an organisation, provided that it’s used strategically, taking into consideration what makes an appealing campaign for the target audience.
In fact, it can be a significant addition to a traditional fundraising strategy, as it can involve:
The combination can lead to new opportunities for nonprofit organisations, and the examples above indicate that the use of digital fundraising technology can bring a charity closer to successful results.