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Fundraising

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.

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.

Seamless video fundraising on the Cards at YouTube

YouTube is a great platform for charities to get their messages out to a wide audience in powerful way – our client HorseWorld has just seen their moving video of rescue horse Buddy’s story go viral, attracting more than 40,000 views overnight.

But turning those views into cash hasn’t always been so straightforward for charities. Appeals in the video lack the direct call-to-action that converts a moment of engagement into a donation, and viewers rarely read the description where you’ve placed your donation platform link.

Until now, the only way to get users to click straight through was through annotations on the video, clickable text areas that are bit clunky and – crucially when most online traffic is now mobile – don’t work at all on smartphones and mobile devices.

Now YouTube has launched a new way of embedding interactive content into your videos -Cards. Cards are more elegant way of creating clickable calls to action, and importantly they work on mobile devices.

You can find the new “Cards” tab in your Video Editor on YouTube, and you can create and edit them at any time, so you can add them to existing videos.

There is a specific card type designed for fundraising – you can view an example here (although we’re not sure why LandRover needs to fundraise!).

You can find out more about Cards here,