The first choice for
strategy and fundraising
Summer's over and it's time to focus on fundraising for the Autumn. Howard Lake of UK Fundraising (fundraising.co.uk) looks at which elements of digital fundraising are worth focusing on.
There's no end of novel opportunities in digital fundraising for fundraisers. Just recently Instagram has enabled donate buttons for charities and individual supporters within its Stories, an expansion of (its owner) Facebook's established fundraising toolkit. The power of streaming of almost any activity for fundraising purposes seems to have no limits, from knitting circles to a marathon reading of Shakespeare's collected works over the Bank Holiday weekend which is close to raise $100,000.
Most fundraisers, however, have learned that successful digital fundraising is far from simply embracing novelty. It is about getting the fundamentals to work well, to build in measuring what you do, and tweaking it each time to learn more about your supporters.
For a back-to-work checklist of what to focus on, I'd suggest the following.
1. Make sure your website is as fast as it can be
No-one hangs around waiting for pages to load these days, especially if they are on mobile and paying for data. Even shaving half or a quarter of a second off average page load times can, over a year, have a significant impact on how many people visit your site and move through whichever routes to action that you have created. Talk to your web developer about this, but check it yourself with free tools like GTmetrix and share those results with your developer.
2. Make your site's content as legible as possible.
Not least to older donors and potential donors whose eyesight is perhaps not quite as good as yours. Can they read the text size as easily as you? And on your emails? Would increasing the text size a little make a noticeable impact? Can you test that?
3. Are you convinced that the key calls to action on it are obvious?
Assuming you've stepped back from your charity's digital presence for some of summer, you may be returning to it a little fresh. Do fundraising asks appear as text links, with the same impact as other non-ask links on that page? Could substituting an image or button for that all-important ask make it easier for visitors to spot and take action?
4. Learn from other fundraisers by dipping into the extraordinary amount of self-help and advice that is shared online every day for free.
Start with Fundraising Chat, the Facebook group that is the current hotspot for 10,000 fundraisers, asking and answering each other's questions. Dip in and explore the archives to get a sense of the quality of what is shared. Note the online mentoring service now available via the group.
Twitter remains helpful to gain fresh perspectives on challenges and opportunities for fundraisers. Efforts to increase diversity and equity within the sector are underway in various ways, to help ensure that charities do genuinely seek out and recruit the best fundraisers. Current campaigns include #NonGraduatesWelcome and #CharitySoWhite.
5. Listen to fundraising advice and inspiration from podcasts.
I wonder how many of you not only had a summer reading list this year but also some podcasts to catch up on? The fundraising sector is well-served by fundraisers sharing their ideas and experiences, and giving others the same opportunity via a chat or interview, in podcast. Do you have a favourite? Let us know. Try Kirsty Marrins' suggestions for 10 sector podcasts to get started.
Last but not least...
I've got one more suggestion, given that, for those lucky ones who have had time off or away this summer, hold onto that feeling of taking time away from work and from staying up to date. Social media and digital fundraising can be all-consuming. Think once again about whether you need to work on it out of hours on a regular basis. And on the kind of pressure that your out-of-hours/weekend emails to colleagues can generate. This one sanity check might well turn out to be more valuable to you and your charity than any shiny new digital function that comes along in the next few months.
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