Charities are advised to have conversations with their supporters about how they can be involved in delivering services digitally and harness the effectiveness of their online fundraising
Arguably charities’ biggest asset is their core users. It is this group of vital stakeholders who donate regularly, are active service users and are strong supporters of charities’ key messaging.
They can be instrumental in helping charities develop, improve services and bolster fundraising efforts.
It is a relationship that can be significantly enhanced amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as lockdown eases.
Two reports released recently show how charities are increasingly looking to engage further with their supporters and involve them in fundraising activity.
The first has been published by Rapidata and is called Navigating times of crises to protect regular giving.
This found a strong appetite among charities to engage further with their core supporters. Three quarters have ramped up their use of social media to do this and 62 per cent had increased their email exchanges with them.
This will continue as lockdown eases with three quarters of charities expecting to continue to accelerate their use of digital channels to engage with supporters.
The other recent report, by charity and hospices consortium Legacy Foresight, highlights how charities are specifically working with their core supporters to be their creative arm for digital fundraising efforts.
This focuses on how charities are working with their supporters who are looking to create in-memory fundraising – to pay tribute to a loved one they have lost and raise money for the charities they support.
This Legacy Foresight report looks at an increasingly popular theme in the voluntary sector of ‘stewardship’, whereby charities have a duty of care to look after their supporters. Digital has been vital to this stewardship as charities and core supporters work as one to create innovative fundraising. This has included setting up donation pages via online fundraising platforms as well as helping them create content across social media.
“It’s so important to remember that the desire to honour a loved one who has died underlies so many types of charity support. Our research proves how important charities’ application of good stewardship is to their in-memory fundraising,” said Kate Jenkinson. Legacy Foresight’s Head of In-Memory Consultancy.
Encouraging core supporters to create user-generated content, to provide authentic and engaging fundraising ideas and messaging, is an important way charities are utilising the expertise of their audience.
The pandemic has given this focus on user-generated content an even greater power in charity’s fundraising efforts, with core users using the time to become increasingly savvy in using social media and digital content tools.
Young Epilepsy and Marie Curie are among charities to work together with their users and supporters to create engaging content and support fundraising. The former has done this through inviting young service users to tell their own stories on video amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, Marie Curie worked with 63-year-old terminal cancer patient Lin Dalton to create an engaging video diary. This was released on Instagram until Lin’s death in June.
Charities are advised to work with their core-supporters and help them to develop their content creating skills further, in particular using the wide range of cost-effective remote video tools available.
Among good causes successfully engaging with core supporters using digital in recent months has been the Co-op Foundation for its Lonely Not Alone campaign.
This has assembled a core group of 13 to 25 year olds involved with the charity to take part in creative sessions online with design agency Effervescent to develop the campaign, which focuses on raising awareness and funds to combat loneliness among young people.
This group helped create last year’s campaigning on this theme, which encouraged young people to wear yellow socks for a day to show their support for the campaign. In April they worked with Effervescent via Zoom to help create new campaigning. This is set to include young people’s ideas on using animation.
An effective way of helping users to work with charities to create effective fundraising is to provide them with training and advice through webinars.
Charity Digital has been running a webinar programme for the last 18 months and earlier this month produced its findings on how charities can run their own webinars.
This advises making sure a charity’s audience is communicated with on what they would like to see in a webinar and what topics are of interest. This could generate ideas such as including key donors views within content, its scheduling and which technology they would like to use to be involved and view the webinar.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations strongly advises charities collect feedback from stakeholders, including their core supporters, to get to know them better. Using online survey tools is a cost-effective way of ensuring supporters can be better involved in decision making.
Among the most used tools among charities and fundraisers are Survey Monkey, Smart Survey, Survey Gizmo and Cognito Forms. These can offer a valuable insight into how core users like to be approached by a charity and how they can help raise further funds.
Charity supporters and users are a ready-made, valuable resource for charities. Now is a great to get to know them better and help them to raise vital funds for good causes.