Charities missing out on £665m

A lack of information explaining to supporters how donations are used by charities and offering evidence of their impact is holding back donations according to a report by New Philanthropy Capital, which found charities are missing out on £665m in donations each year by not doing enough to engage in this area.

Dogs Trust
Dogs Trust uses branding to make sure message isn’t lost as images are shared.

The report, based on findings from a survey of 3,000 people, focus groups and in-depth interviews, adds if charities provided more information 20 per cent of mainstream supporters and 34 per cent of high-income donors would increase their overall giving, which could boost total giving by 11 per cent.

Digital channels such as online video and social media and shareable content offers charities have been underused by third sector marketers to date, according to industry observers. At an event hosted by CharityComms in London last week, speakers detailed how their use provides an opportunity to boost online engagement with potential supporters and donors.

The pressure of families having less disposable income meant donations fell 20 per cent last year according to the Charities Aid Foundation, which means there is a need for the sector to do more to encourage donations.

ONLINE VIDEO

YouTube reached 1 billion unique users in March and the opportunity for charities to capitalise on its growth to show supporters where funds go and what difference it has made to recipients is significant, according to Maryam Mossavar, Google’s manager for non-profits.

She said: “As charities you’re trying to tell a story and motivate people to take an action. There’s not really a better way to share what you’re doing, what’s happening on the ground or bring to life the impact you’re having than video.”

She added that online video can be used as a direct action mechanic as well as a way to spread information by adding links to campaigns or Google Wallet to drive donations because there is a “huge community of YouTube users who want to actively participate not just watch content”.

Mossavar claimed 68 per cent of YouTube users donate to charity, users are 25 times more likely to donate online than the general population and 54 per cent would be willing to volunteer for a cause.

SHAREABLE CONTENT

Jacqui O’Beirne, head of digital marketing at Dogs Trust said charities are missing out by not taking advantage of the viral nature of sharing content online through social networks. It is important, however, to make sure the charity branding is visible so the cause reaps the benefit in terms of brand awareness.

The charity, which has half a million Likes on Facebook and attracts more than 250 interactions on its page “on a quiet day”, she said, found a lot of its original images were being shared without reference to the organisation or its messages about what it does. It added its yellow branding and web address to all images it shares so its stories about rehoming dogs are not lost as the images are shared.

As a dog charity the organisation has the advantage of being able to share popular images and videos of dogs to tell it’s stories, O’Beirne says that all charities can take a similar approach even if their market doesn’t have such obviously shareable content.

SOCIAL

RNIB has used social media as part of its efforts to modernise perceptions of its brand and increase understanding of what the charity deals with on a daily basis so that supporters and potential donors know where their money is going.

The organisation hosted a ‘day in the life of RNIB’ campaign on Twitter where it updated followers on everything it dealt with that day from taking calls in its advice centre, promoting its services, and talking about the experiences of blind or partially sighted people.

Verity Pillinger-Cork, RNIB web and digital marketing manager, told delegates at the CharityComms event: “People learned more about what we offer. We needed to change perceptions as people think we do one or two things but we needed to talk about the rest. We got reach, impressions and retweets but more importantly we got a positive response.”

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