Why Charity must get Mobile and Social or Lose out on Giving

A recent report by the world’s top referrer JustGiving said that Facebook mobile now brings in just shy of one in five users to their site.

It seems that the use of mobile in conjunction with charitable giving has given cause for anyone in the third sector to step up their game in order to compete on this exciting level. 

We believe that it is the sharing and visibility of donations that has increased the appeal. According to the same report, one in five donation shares results in another donation and one in ten shares results in another share. So each sharer brings more donations and more people!

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   Image JustGiving

Image JustGiving

This makes mobile users incredibly valuable to anyone wanting to raise money – and of course to referral sites such as JustGiving too who take a small percentage of the money raised for facilitating the giving process. 

These stats surely highlight the prominence of assimilating social and mobile tools into fundraising campaigns in order to increase influence and success.

Social and mobile lend themselves to an alternative appeal and thankfully have put the sheet of handwritten sponsorship pledges far behind us. Digital fundraising reaches far greater audience and lets us flex our creative muscles. 

The ability to add a Facebook badge to show off motivation, count downs scheduled to go out at certain times, posting a picture, film and the ability to story-tell have all become powerful methods of engaging a potential giver, whether it is for a large campaign like Children in Need or for an individual running the London Marathon. 

No one has utilised and benefited from online fundraising platforms more than the Teenage Cancer Trust. A charity supporting teenagers, it gained enormously from Stephen Sutton who caught the attention of the nation through his blog on living with bowel cancer and a hashtag #thumbsupforstephen. He raised £4.2 million as an ambassador for the charity and continues to raise money after his death last summer.

The RNLI too has grasped the potential of sociable giving, by launching an app called #H2ONLY, which challenges its fundraisers to drink nothing but water for two weeks, allowing them to share and update on their challenge via social media. 

But it isn’t all about the visibility of these big charities and campaigns. Take this video from Ian McKee, a PR Account Director at Wildfire. He engaged some new fundraising tactics with video appealing for sponsorship for running the London Marathon this year. 

In his blog, Ian said that social media offers “functionality including analytics, paid promotion for additional reach, visibility in Facebook search and the ability to include a call to action. Though like with the YouTube issue, there was no ‘donate’ CTA, the closest I could find was ‘sign up’, showing how these features are aimed at businesses rather than causes.” 

Facebook also offers the opportunity for paid promotion, sending the appeal and cause to a targeted audience. For a minimal spend (think of it as one’s own donation) then this makes sense and increases the visibility and shareability drastically.

For Dale Johnson, still in the process of fundraising for his chosen Cancer charity (hint hint) a Just Giving page was only part of his inventive campaign. His series of inventive graphics and appeals were run on facebook and on twitter and led to many more donations as they were picked up online by friends and friends of friends. 

It also gave him the opportunity to sell and promote other items to aid him in his fundraising.

Appealing to those that you would never have a chance to appeal to is another reason that charitable social media campaigns have also been so successful. This is why many people will send tweets to complete strangers – celebrities with a passion for a particular cause. Sometimes it works – and sometimes it doesn’t. A simple ‘please re-tweet this’ probably won’t appeals to their thousands and thousands of followers – but imagine if that linked to a funny picture of you and some live links to your social media campaign film.

The amplification tool Thunderclap has also been useful. As a crowdspeaking platform it aims to help people be heard by saying something together. It allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style and can be used by someone with 200 Facebook friends to 3,000 friends. It still depends the cause's voice and shareability - and how much your friends are engaged. It does however let you schedule your ‘Thunderclap’ and then recruit people to commit to promoting it via Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, hopefully then ‘trending’ although this is unlikely unless you have a lot of friends!.

With Facebook being the world’s largest social network with over a third of the UK population logging I every day and four out of 5 accessing sites from a mobile device, it is time that those working in the third sector realise that they can no longer go on without having a full mobile responsive website, digital advice and tools to get fundraisers started and a good team – or outsourced team - to plan digital and social campaigns.

JustGiving spent the best part of six months rebuilding their donation process from the ground and optimising it for mobile with the analytics demonstrating that more money is being donated by smartphone users than ever before – over £3 million from about 100,000 superfast donations.