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Farming, not hunting: why charities need to rethink engagement

Sowing-seeds-460“Charities need to do more farming and less hunting” – this quote from the son of a man whose personal details were sold on more than 200 times by charities very neatly sums up the changing landscape for fundraisers in a more connected world.

After a spate of bad publicity over the aggressive approach taken by some charities in their fundraising, tougher rules and a new regulator could be introduced to try to curb some of the more controversial practices.

At the heart of the scandal is the idea of aggressive and invasive targeting of individuals – of charities stepping in uninvited to people’s homes and personal spaces and applying pressure to get money.

While the practices highlighted in the media – and their outcomes – are extreme, the issue is much more than a few charities stepping over the line.

Building engagment

In a more connected world more data is available and more “hunting” is possible. But at the same time, people are choosing more than ever to engage with charities strictly on their own terms, and to call charities out if they don’t respect that.

The result is that charities who aggressively target may be seeing short-term gains at the long-term cost of their brand, reputation and relationship with donors.

We highlight in our workshops that the biggest donor demographic – baby-boomers – is more likely than any other to check out your reputation online before engaging with you. And the younger demographics are more likely to share bad experiences with charities.

The best engagement works when charities let the donors come to them. The people they are “hunting” can just as easily be “farmed”. They are out there,but rather than using data to track them down charities can use that data to sow the seeds of engagement and nurture people to grow them into long-term supporters.

Value exchange

Engaging with potential donors through conversation on their platforms and on their terms; being open to questioning; enabling donors to find you because you meet their needs rather than finding them because they meet yours – these are the approaches charities will need to take in future.

Donors increasingly look for value-exchange with charities. Its much less the case now that people give money to support a charity’s work, rather they are giving money so that charities can support their work. They want to make a change and the best way to fulfill their personal goal is to pay a charity to do it for them.

It’s a subtle difference – but a big one: more than ever, donors want control.

And this includes control over how, where and when charities communicate with them.

The charities that understand this are those that will survive the evolution in giving from hunter-gathering to joined-up communities.

bhp

NHS partnership website launched on Hummingbird 3

Our latest website, for a partnership of NHS trusts, universities and local authorities, is the first of a number of projects to run on our new Hummingbird 3 CMS platform.

Bristol Health Partners is a strategic collaboration between the city’s three NHS trusts, three clinical commissioning groups, two universities and its local authority.

The website supports the partnership’s internal comms strategy, as well as providing a platform for engaging other bodies and professionals with their work.

The site is the first to run on the latest version of our Content Management System, Hummingbird and is designed to be responsive, user-friendly and highly flexible.

Hummingbird 3.0 has been in development for over a year and marks a significant upgrade on our tried-and-trusted CMS. The platform has been designed and specced in collaboration with a number of our clients to deliver a powerful CMS system designed for the way charities and other similar organisations work.

The centralised CMS system is created to allow best-practice to be disseminated across all our clients – with regular updates, improvements and upgrades seamlessly rolled out across all users. Through working with multiple charity, arts and public sector clients we are able to take successful and effective technical solutions and share them across all clients.

This ensures all HB3 users benefit from ongoing development work and future-proof their sites as well as benefiting from our experience and expertise in the sector.

 

Facebook (almost) rolls out donate button

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Currently only selected charity partners can take donations directly through Facebook

For the last two years, Facebook has allowed a small number of charity partners to collect donations directly through their pages. Now the are rolling the service out to all non-profits – but not fully.

Charities will be able to add a Facebook-native Donate Now button to their page – however, unlike the partner programme charities, you won’t be able to directly donate to the charity through Facebook.

The button is more of a call-to-action, taking users off to the charity’s own donation platform. It’s believed this has been done by Facebook to avoid accusations that it is endorsing donations to unpopular or controversial causes.

Despite this, the feature may still be helpful in driving users to donate, as up until now having a static, permanent and clear call to action to donate on your Facebook page has been a bit of a challenge.

The idea of sending users away from Facebook to continue their engagement with an organisation goes against a lot of what Facebook has been trying to do recently in terms of making Pages the core of user interaction with an organisation. So it will be interesting to see how the button develops and if Facebook extends full integration to all sometime in the future.

App R&D project kicks off in London

8348989885_e6ed96e478_zWe’re excited to be beginning a year-long research and development project to develop our prototype cost-modelling application with one of the world’s biggest technical support and management companies.

The innovative app allows the company to efficiently project costs for multi-million pound projects in a user- and client-friendly way and has been used in prototype form for the last 18 months.

Following a technical workshop with the company at their UK HQ in central London, we are now taking the app to the next stage with enhancements to its data-processing, UX and design to make it what will be the most powerful client-facing cost modeller in the industry.

Museum Makers up for national museum and heritage awards

Museum Makers – which uses our Volunteer Makers volunteer management platform – has been shortlisted for the Best Marketing Campaign in the 2015 Museums and Heritage Awards for their Luton Happy video campaign.

Museum Makers – a team of volunteers set up by Luton Culture to support Wardown Park Museum – are listed with the likes of The Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museums and National Maritime Museum for the prestigious award which will be announced on 29th April.

The team are being recognised for their viral video Luton Happy, which showcased their museum and the people of Luton to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’ hit “Happy”. As well as engaging well over a hundred thousands viewers online, the video came to the attention of the singer who promoted it to his own followers.

Museum Makers manages museum volunteers through their website which runs on our Volunteer Makers platform – an interactive challenge database for growing, managing and engaging volunteers. The Luton Happy video project was one of the challenges put out on the database, and performers, crew, film-makers and editors were recruited via the platform to make the video a reality.

The platform, created by Luton Culture and built on our technology, has helped the team grow their volunteer base from around 40 to well over 1000 in two years, and as well as helping secure the museum’s future has allowed them to pull off a number of impressive engagement coups from the Luton Happy video to a place in the Guinness Book of Records for hat wearing!

The Volunteer Makers platform allows organisations that rely on volunteers to manage their engagement from matching skills with needs, to social promotion and recruitment – all in a user-friendly way that allows volunteers to get involved at a level that suits them, whether that’s a few minutes now and again or a regular commitment.

We’re delighted to be supporting our client and joining them at the event in London.