Given how much digital communication tools proved their worth during the pandemic, it’s no surprise that they’ve become ingrained in our everyday lives. This now also includes charity fundraising efforts.
Online fundraising on the rise
Offline events, when they weren’t allowed to take place due to lockdown restrictions, moved online. Now that things have opened back up and in-person events are now being (carefully) planned, are charities going back to how things were? Or are they staying behind their screens?
According to Fundraising.co.uk, online gifts and donations to charities rose by a whopping 97% during the pandemic. Whether this is equal to what would have been raised offline in the same period, had coronavirus never happened, is perhaps hard to measure; however, this does show that online fundraising can be an effective way to secure funds for your cause.
Income can be generated via online events, such as charity quizzes, race nights, live-streamed gaming events, music festivals or online auctions. Attendees buy tickets/donate in return for the mode of entertainment on offer or the prizes they may receive.
Kudos to Zoom
Those amongst the general public wishing to donate to the cause of their choice can now do this via Zoom, who has added a donate button to their application. What’s even better news is that the company doesn’t charge any fees for collecting monies on a charity’s behalf (other than the standard credit/debit card transaction fees, should this be the donor’s preferred method of payment).
Though it may seem an outdated method to keep in touch with donors, there are still plenty of (predominantly large) charities who employ fundraisers to telephone previous benefactors and drum up further donations. If these same fundraisers were to Zoom call individuals, not only would this reinforce the relationship between both parties, the charity could also play a video or give a presentation about the work of the organisation. It would prove very difficult for the person on the other end of the call to say no after that.
The Zoom donate feature, during live fundraising events, shows participants a running total and donor activity. Charities are also able to tailor/create a background screen that thanks a supporter for their donation. The app certainly looks like it could prove a valued and effective tool for organisations in the third sector.
Do digital donations bring in more money?
Studies have shown that many charitable organisations greatly benefit from digital donations. Whereas, in the past, volunteers would stand outside shopping centres shaking a bucket, they now stand there with a card machine in hand. Passers-by, previously, may have given the fundraiser the change in their pockets; when using their card, they tend to give enough to make the transaction worthwhile. For example, spare change thrown into a bucket may have amounted to 40p; a card donation is often anything from £1-£5.
So, is the future online?
The costs associated with holding an offline event may seem extravagant now that digital fundraising events have proved so popular with charities and the public alike. There’s also the argument that more people can be reached digitally, as location is no longer an issue when it comes to attending an event.
Even charity shops have moved some of their operations online. According to Shopiago, items sold online by charitable organisations rose by 151% in recent months, with most of these transactions occurring on eBay. Charity shops lost more than £33,000 each, on average, during the various lockdowns—this revenue was crucial for them to survive.
Another growth area within fundraising is using text messages to donate. 84% of people in the UK own a smartphone, and various apps can make it easy for supporters to donate money with their device. Doing so doesn’t require any forms to be filled in or lots of information from the supporter, and the convenience of this method makes it an easy way to collect monies from people looking to give to a good cause.
Are you ready for the online revolution?
The knock-on effect of all this, of course, is ensuring your organisation holds the relevant digital skills amongst its staff. This may not be an issue for larger organisations with plenty of employees to choose from; however, it may prove a problem for smaller charities with limited resources and few staff members or volunteers who can organise and effectively run online events. This is not something that’s up for debate, unfortunately…technology has disrupted so many industries, and the third sector is no different.
If organisations can’t keep up and compete, they risk falling by the wayside. As time progresses, older donors, who may prefer offline/traditional methods of donating, will be replaced by younger, more digital-savvy supporters. Reaching the latter group and engaging them may take some time, so the sooner digital tools, techniques, methods and strategies become part of your future plans, the better.
Zoom has given charities a great tool to use as part of their fundraising activities and all forward-thinking organisations will be getting to grips with the workings of this app as we speak.
If you need help shaping your charity so that’s it’s future ready—concerning everything from your compliance, your staffing goals and your income plan for the next five years, for example—get in touch with me on 0114 350 3354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.