Charities have been around for centuries, and they play a vital role in society by helping people who are in need. However, as times have changed, charities must also adapt to the digital era to reach more people and make a greater impact. In this article, we provide a guide to digital strategy for charities. The guide will include key steps and best practices for developing a successful digital strategy to help charities increase their reach, engage with supporters, and achieve their goals.
Why is it important for charities to embrace digital?
Charities must embrace digital to take advantage of the opportunities it provides for increased reach, supporter engagement, and impact.
With the internet as a global platform, a digital strategy can enable charities to connect with a much larger audience, raise more funds, and increase their reach. Through digital channels such as social media and email marketing, charities can engage with their supporters in real time, strengthening relationships and improving supporter loyalty.
According to Blackbaud Institute, online giving grows by 9% year on year and accounts for 12% of charities’ overall fundraising. Digital channels provide an easier way for supporters to make donations, leading to increased charity revenue.
Additionally, digital tools can help charities automate tasks, freeing up valuable resources and time for more impactful work. The use of data and analytics can help charities improve their digital strategy by tracking website traffic, social media engagement, email open rates, and other metrics. Overall, embracing digital is crucial for charities to remain relevant and achieve their mission in today’s digital age.
Examples of successful digital campaigns from charities.
Don’t just take my word for it; there are countless examples of charities that have succeeded with digital campaigns. Below is just a few examples of successful digital charity campaigns.
The Movember Foundation runs an annual campaign where men grow moustaches during November to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. The campaign uses social media, email marketing, and other digital channels to engage supporters and share updates on the organisation’s progress. Since its launch in 2003, Movember has raised more than $837 million and has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects.
The #GivingTuesday movement is a global day of giving that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The campaign encourages people to donate to charities and share their giving stories on social media. Since its launch in 2012, #GivingTuesday has raised more than $2 billion in online donations.
Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in 2014, with people posting videos of themselves being doused in ice water to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. The campaign raised more than $115 million in just a few months and helped the organisation significantly increase its donor base and social media following.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Earth Hour
WWF’s Earth Hour campaign encourages people to turn off their lights for one hour to raise awareness of climate change and other environmental issues. The campaign uses social media, email marketing, and other digital channels to engage supporters and share updates on the organisation’s work. Since its launch in 2007, Earth Hour has become a global event, with millions participating in more than 190 countries.
What is included in a digital strategy for charity?
A digital strategy for a charity typically includes several key components, such as
Goals and Objectives
Identifying the specific goals and objectives the charity aims to achieve through digital efforts, such as increasing donations, driving engagement, or raising awareness.
Defining the target audience for the charity’s digital content and campaigns, including demographic and psychographic characteristics, behaviours, and motivations.
Develop a plan for which digital channels to use, such as social media, email marketing, and search engine marketing, and how to optimise each channel for the charity’s specific goals and objectives.
Creating a plan for the type of content the charity will produce, including the tone, style, and messaging that will resonate with the target audience and the topics and formats that will be most effective.
Analytics and Metrics
Establishing a system for measuring the success of the charity’s digital efforts, including metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, email open and click-through rates, and donation conversion rates.
Determining the budget, staff, and other resources needed to execute the digital strategy effectively, including investments in technology, staffing, and advertising.
Governance and Risk Management
Establishing guidelines for the use of digital channels, including risk management policies, privacy and data protection policies, and procedures for responding to online feedback and comments.
By including these key components in a digital strategy, charities can create a comprehensive plan that aligns with their overall mission and helps them to achieve their specific goals and objectives through digital channels.
How can a digital strategy help charities achieve their organisational goals?
A digital strategy can help charities achieve their organisational goals in several ways. Firstly, it can help to raise awareness of the charity’s mission and activities and engage new supporters through digital channels. By developing a targeted content strategy, charities can create compelling and shareable content that resonates with their target audience and use social media and other channels to reach a wider audience.
Secondly, a digital strategy can help to drive donations and fundraising efforts. By using targeted advertising and email marketing campaigns, charities can reach out to potential donors and encourage them to support the charity’s work. Effective use of digital channels can help to create a sense of urgency and momentum around fundraising campaigns and make it easier for supporters to donate online.
Thirdly, a digital strategy can help charities to build and maintain relationships with their supporters. By using email marketing and social media channels, charities can keep supporters informed about the latest news and events and create opportunities for engagement and dialogue. This can help to build trust and loyalty among supporters and encourage them to remain engaged with the charity’s activities over the long term.
Finally, a digital strategy can help to increase the impact of advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns. By using digital channels to share stories, raise awareness of key issues, and mobilise supporters to take action, charities can amplify their impact and reach a wider audience. This can be particularly effective in engaging younger audiences who are more likely to consume information and engage with social issues through digital channels.
Overall, a well-executed digital strategy can help charities to achieve their organisational goals by raising awareness, driving donations, building relationships, and increasing the impact of advocacy campaigns. By leveraging the power of digital channels, charities can engage new audiences and achieve their mission more effectively.
Each digital strategy needs to be tailored to the organisation’s objectives, and the right tools and platforms for one organisation aren’t necessarily the right approach for other Organisations. That said, below, I’ve broken down information on some of the popular tools and techniques used in digital strategies that I believe will help get charities of all sizes on the right track.
Choosing the right CRM.
Choosing the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is crucial for charities, as it can impact the effectiveness of their fundraising and engagement efforts.
What is a CRM?
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a type of software organisations use to manage their interactions with customers or clients, including donors, in the case of charities. A CRM system stores and organises data related to customer interactions, such as contact information, communication history, purchases, and other relevant data. This information is used to build relationships with customers, improve engagement, and increase customer loyalty.
In the context of charities, a CRM system is used to manage donor relationships and track donations, communications, and other interactions. A good CRM system allows charities to segment their donor lists, send targeted messages, and track the effectiveness of their fundraising campaigns. By using a CRM system, charities can improve their donor retention rates, streamline their operations, and make data-driven decisions based on insights into their donor base.
Why is it important for charities to pick the right CRM?
Here are some reasons why it is important for charities to choose the right CRM:
Improved donor management.
A good CRM system can help charities manage their donor data more effectively, allowing them to track donations, communications, and other interactions. This can help charities build better relationships with donors and improve retention rates.
A good CRM system can also help charities communicate more effectively with their donors by allowing them to segment their lists, send targeted messages, and track the effectiveness of their campaigns. This can help charities reach their donors with the right message at the right time, improving engagement and response rates.
A good CRM system can help charities streamline their operations and save time on administrative tasks. By automating tasks like donor thank-you notes, donation receipts, and event registration, charities can focus on their core mission and goals.
A good CRM system can provide charities with valuable insights into their donor base, such as giving trends, preferences, and behaviours. This information can help charities make better-informed decisions about their fundraising and engagement strategies and adjust their approach based on data-driven insights.
As charities grow and expand their programs and services, a good CRM system can grow with them. By choosing a CRM that can scale to meet their needs, charities can avoid the need to switch systems later on, which can be time-consuming and costly.
In summary, choosing the right CRM is important for charities as it can impact donor management, communication, efficiency, insights, and scalability. By selecting a CRM system that meets their specific needs and goals, charities can improve their fundraising and engagement efforts and make a greater impact on their mission.
How can search engine optimisation consistently raise awareness and build donor loyalty?
Well, search engine-optimised content can help charities attract visitors to their websites and build donor loyalty by improving the visibility of their website in search engine results. When people use search engines like Google to find information, they typically click on the first few results that appear on the search engine results page (SERP). If a charity’s website appears at the top of the search results for relevant keywords, it is more likely to attract visitors.
To create search engine-optimised content, charities should incorporate relevant keywords into their website content, such as blog posts, news updates, and landing pages. These keywords should be carefully selected based on what their target audience is searching for and how they search for it.
Search engine optimisation goes beyond keywords and what is on the page; in fact,
charities that optimise their website for mobile devices have a 34% higher conversion rate for donations. (Source: Nonprofit Tech for Good) but optimising content is a good place to start for those charities with less technical ability.
Here are some ways that search engine optimisation can help charities consistently attract visitors to their website and build donor loyalty:
Increased visibility in search results.
By optimising their website for relevant keywords, charities can improve their website’s visibility in search results. This means that their website is more likely to be seen by people searching for information related to their cause or mission.
When a charity appears at the top of search results, it can increase its credibility in the eyes of potential supporters. People tend to trust websites that appear at the top of search results more than those buried on page two or three of the results.
By consistently producing well search engine-optimised content, charities can attract more traffic to their website. This can lead to increased donations, volunteer sign-ups, and other forms of support.
Better donor targeting.
By researching and incorporating the right keywords, charities can attract visitors who are most likely to be interested in their cause. This can lead to more engaged donors who are more likely to become long-term supporters.
Improved user experience.
Well search engine-optimised content can also help to improve the user experience on a charity’s website. By creating high-quality, relevant content that meets the needs of their target audience, charities can keep visitors on their website for longer and encourage them to return in the future.
Overall, well search-engine-optimised content is essential to any charity’s digital strategy. By incorporating relevant keywords into their content and producing high-quality, engaging material, charities can attract more visitors to their website, build donor loyalty, and ultimately achieve their mission.
How does social media help charities achieve their objectives?
Social media can be a powerful tool for charities to achieve their objectives in a variety of ways. According to Classy, charities that use social media to engage with supporters raise 3x more money than those that don’t. (Source: Classy)
Here are some key ways social media can help charities:
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used to raise awareness about a charity’s cause, campaigns, and events. By sharing content and updates on social media, charities can reach a wide audience and raise awareness about their work and mission.
Social media can help charities build and engage with their community of supporters. By sharing stories, responding to comments, and thanking donors and volunteers, charities can foster a sense of community and engagement among their supporters.
Social media can be used to drive engagement in a variety of ways, such as by asking for donations, signing petitions, or sharing content. By including calls to action in their social media posts, charities can motivate their followers to take action and support their cause.
Social media platforms can be used for fundraising campaigns, such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or virtual events. By leveraging social media networks to spread the word about their campaigns, charities can reach a larger audience and raise more funds.
Social media can be a powerful tool for advocacy campaigns, such as raising awareness about policy issues, promoting legislative action, and encouraging social change. By using social media to mobilise their supporters and raise awareness about specific issues, charities can influence public opinion and promote change.
Social media can also build partnerships with other organisations and influencers who share a charity’s goals and values. By collaborating with others on social media, charities can amplify their message and reach a larger audience.
In summary, social media can help charities achieve their objectives by raising awareness, building community, driving engagement, fundraising, advocacy, and building partnerships. With a well-crafted social media strategy, charities can harness the power of social media to make a positive impact and achieve their goals.
How do social media ads help charities increase donations and drive engagement in advocacy campaigns?
Social media ads can be a powerful tool for charities to increase donations and drive engagement in advocacy campaigns. Here are some ways that social media ads can help:
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer robust targeting capabilities that allow charities to reach their ideal audience. By targeting people based on factors like age, location, interests, and behaviours, charities can ensure that their ads are seen by people most likely to be interested in their cause.
Social media ads can be a cost-effective way for charities to reach a large audience. Unlike traditional advertising methods like TV or radio ads, social media ads allow charities to set a budget and only pay when someone clicks on their ad or takes another desired action.
Social media ads can help charities increase their visibility on social media platforms. Social media ads can help charities raise awareness about their cause and drive engagement by appearing in users’ feeds and other prominent places on the platform.
Social media ads can encourage engagement with a charity’s content by offering calls to action, such as asking users to sign a petition, donate, or share a post. These actions can help increase user engagement with the charity’s campaigns and help spread their message to a wider audience.
Improved donation targeting
Social media ads can also help charities target potential donors with specific messages, such as asking for donations or promoting a specific fundraising campaign. By targeting users who are more likely to be interested in donating, social media ads can help increase donations and overall fundraising.
Amplified advocacy efforts
Social media ads can effectively drive engagement in advocacy campaigns. By targeting people interested in specific issues, charities can use social media ads to encourage users to sign petitions, contact their representatives, and take other actions that can support advocacy efforts.
In summary, social media ads can help charities increase donations, drive engagement in advocacy campaigns, and raise awareness about their cause. With careful targeting and compelling calls to action, social media ads can be a powerful tool for charities to achieve their goals and make a positive impact.
How does email marketing help charities improve their donor retention?
Email is the most effective digital channel for donor retention, with an average retention rate of 60%. (Source: Charitable Giving Report, Blackbaud)
Here are some ways that email marketing can help:
Email marketing allows charities to communicate with their donors on a regular basis. By sending regular updates and newsletters, charities can keep their donors informed about their work and progress, which can help build a stronger connection between the donor and the charity.
With email marketing, charities can personalise their messages based on the donor’s interests and giving history. By tailoring messages to specific donors, charities can show donors that they are valued and appreciated, which can help improve donor retention.
Email marketing can help improve donor engagement by encouraging donors to donate or sign up for volunteer opportunities. By including calls to action in their emails, charities can motivate donors to take action and feel more connected to the charity’s work.
By segmenting their email lists based on factors like giving history and interests, charities can create more targeted and relevant email campaigns. This can help increase donor engagement and retention by ensuring donors receive messages tailored to their specific needs and interests.
Feedback and surveys
Email marketing can also be used to solicit feedback and surveys from donors. By asking for feedback on their programs and services, charities can show donors that their opinions and input are valued, which can help improve donor retention.
Email marketing can be a cost-effective way for charities to communicate with donors. Compared to other forms of marketing, such as direct mail, email marketing is relatively inexpensive and can be scaled to reach a large audience.
In summary, email marketing can be an effective tool for charities to improve donor retention. By regularly communicating with donors, personalising messages, increasing engagement, and soliciting feedback, charities can build stronger relationships with their donors and encourage long-term support.
Steps to create a digital strategy for your charity.
Step 1: Define your goals and audience.
The first step in developing a digital strategy for charities is to define your goals and audience. Goals will help you to determine what you want to achieve through your digital strategy. This could be to increase donations, raise awareness of your cause, or engage with supporters. Once you have set your goals, you need to identify your target audience. Understanding your audience is essential to crafting a digital strategy that will resonate with them. Consider what motivates your audience and what their needs and interests are.
Step 2: Conduct a digital audit.
The next step is to conduct a digital audit of your current assets. This includes your website, social media channels, email marketing, and digital campaigns. A digital audit will help you identify areas for improvement and opportunities for growth. For example, if your website is not mobile-friendly, you may miss out on many visitors who prefer to use mobile devices. You can identify and address such issues by conducting a digital audit to improve your overall digital presence.
Step 3: Develop a content strategy.
Developing a content strategy is crucial to the success of your digital strategy. Your content strategy should align with your goals and audience and provide value to your audience. The key is to create content that resonates with your audience and drives engagement. Consider using a mix of formats, such as blog posts, videos, and infographics. Use storytelling techniques to create content that connects with your audience emotionally.
Step 4: Optimise your website.
Your website is the hub of your digital presence. Therefore, it is essential to optimise your website to ensure that it is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and optimised for search engines. A well-optimised website can help to drive traffic to your site and increase conversions. Make it easy for visitors to donate, sign up for newsletters, or take other desired actions. Use clear calls to action that are easy to find on your website. Optimise your website for search engines to improve your visibility in search results.
Step 5: Leverage social media.
Social media is an excellent tool for charities to reach and engage with supporters. However, with so many social media platforms available, it can be challenging to know where to focus your efforts. It is essential to choose the platforms that are most relevant to your audience and align with your goals. Use social media to share your content, engage with your audience, and amplify your message. Consider running paid social media ads to reach a wider audience.
Step 6: Invest in email marketing.
Email marketing is another powerful tool that charities can use to communicate with their supporters. A well-executed email marketing campaign can help to keep your supporters informed about your work and encourage them to take action. Use segmentation and personalisation to deliver targeted messages that resonate with specific groups of supporters. Ensure that your emails are mobile-friendly and optimised for different email clients.
Step 7: Measure and analyse your results.
The final step is to measure and analyse your results to see how your digital strategy is performing. Use analytics tools to track your progress towards your goals and identify areas for improvement. You should regularly review your analytics data and adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, if you notice that your social media engagement is low, you may need to adjust your content strategy
to create more engaging content that resonates with your audience. Or, if you notice that your website traffic is low, you may need to invest more in SEO or other marketing efforts to increase your visibility.
Best practices for creating a digital strategy for charities.
In addition to the steps outlined above, charities should follow some best practices when developing a digital strategy. Here are some of the most important ones:
Keep your messaging consistent.
Your messaging should be consistent across all your digital channels, from your website to your social media profiles. This will help to build a strong brand identity and make it easier for your audience to recognise you.
Use visuals to tell your story.
Visuals such as images and videos can be a powerful way to tell your story and connect with your audience emotionally. Use visuals to supplement your written content and make it more engaging.
Be transparent and authentic.
Charities need to build trust with their supporters, and one way to do this is to be transparent and authentic in your communications. Share stories of how you are making a difference and provide regular updates on your progress.
Focus on building relationships.Digital channels provide an opportunity to build relationships with your supporters. Use social media to engage with your audience and respond to their comments and questions. Use email marketing to provide personalised messages that demonstrate your appreciation for your supporters.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.Digital channels are constantly evolving, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies and tactics to see what resonates with your audience. Be willing to try new things and learn from your successes and failures.
In conclusion, developing a successful digital strategy for charities requires careful planning and execution. By following the steps outlined in this ultimate guide, charities can create a digital strategy that helps them reach and engage with more supporters, increase donations, and achieve their mission. Charities should keep the best practices in mind and continue experimenting with new strategies to stay relevant in the digital age. By focusing on building relationships with their supporters and delivering value through engaging content, charities can make a significant impact in their communities and beyond.