What’s not to Like about Facebook Likes?

Rather a lot, according to this video by the smart folks over at the YouTube educational science channel Veritasium.

If you’ve got ‘Volume of Likes’ as a KPI for your digital activity but don’t know about the murky world of click farms and the impact they’re having on engagement and organic reach on Facebook, then sit back and invest a few minutes watching their interesting video report.

It’s a really clear explanation of a pretty complex challenge facing digital marketers and fundraisers – and may well change just how much you like your Likes, for ever!

(Hat tip to @harveymckinnon of Harvey McKinnon Associates in Canada for spotting it)


Are organisational silos blocking your online fundraising growth?

Charity Departmental Silos

Research from eMarketer reveals that the UK’s love of online shopping is well ahead that of the rest of the world, with an estimated 87% of Internet users here shopping online – compared to 73% for the US and 72% for Western Europe overall. According to the latest IMRG E-Retail Sales Index this results in online now making-up an estimated 21% of all UK retail sales.

On this basis, and given all of the talk over recent years about the new fundraising opportunities that online offers, you’d be forgiven for expecting that online donations should make-up a pretty substantial percentage of individual giving here too.

But the truth is that for most charities the proportion of individual donor income received online remains irritatingly small. Indeed, Blackbaud’s 2013 SONI research says online giving represents just 15% of individual donations in the UK.

So, what’s causing the gap between our high expectations and the low proportion of income most fundraisers currently receive online?

Some say “online shoppers are just not the same people as our donors”. However, Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving research found that valuable ‘Baby Boomer’ donors (born 1946-1964) said they were as likely to give online as via direct mail. While a recent report by online affiliate giving platform Give as You Live found that 22% of people aged over 75 named email as the form of communication most likely to prompt them to donate.

It seems to me that the challenge we face is less about donor audiences not evolving to embrace giving online and more about our charities not really evolving to fully embrace fundraising online.

Often at the heart of this is the fact that most charities have yet to evolve beyond the discrete silos they’ve always worked-in. But online engagement is now so all-embracing that no organisation can plan and deliver it in an effective manner whilst still working within traditional silos.

If this rings a bell, and you’re a fundraiser whose online income is suffering because of traditional silo-itis, then here are three quick tips to help you on the road to recovery:

1. Don’t treat Fundraising and Online Fundraising as different disciplines. Fundraising is all about inspiring people to help change the world for the better by funding your organisation’s work. Online Fundraising simply adds digital to the donor engagement mix. So, don’t start by thinking about doing new things online. First look at what fundraising is working for you already and consider how online activity might make it work even better.

2. Focus first on the basics that will help you deliver more income before investing in innovation. User experience specialists Nomensa report that 47% of would-be online donors give-up before donating because of badly designed websites. So, ensuring your donation pages are really effective is likely to deliver you far more income than trialing innovative new ways to fundraise online or tinkering with your Twitter feed. The clarity that you’ll gain from such focus will also mean you’re far better prepared to brief your organisation’s digital folks (who are often in a different silo) on the key things you need them to do to help you raise more money.

3. Adopt a consistent approach to planning online activities across all teams. Those organisations who are seeing their online income really grow typically use a clearly defined approach to planning, implementing, and evaluating online activities across all teams needing to use them – from Fundraising to Communications and Campaigning. That way, conflicting requirements can be addressed as early as possible; consistent and coherent messaging delivered; and effort and investment focused where it delivers best value.

If you have any tips of your own to offer in support of fundraisers suffering from silo-working – do share them by leaving a comment below…

A version of this post was first published as a guest post on the UK Institute of Fundraising Blog

Kick-off the New Year with a healthy dose of global digital stats

The strategy projects I work on often involve organisations working in multiple countries, so I’m always on the look-out for research reports that offer country-by-country comparative digital usage data – to help assess the need for office-specific variations in plans or expectations.

With this in mind, it was great to see the Global Digital Statistics Report the kind folks at We Are Social Singapore have just made available through Slideshare (you can flick through a copy above).

From Regional Comparison data across internet, mobile, and social media usage, to detailed snapshots on 24 countries, it makes very interesting reading for anyone wanting to keep-up with how the digital world is evolving outside their local market.

Australia’s FebFast 2014 fundraiser to include a Digital Detox option

Digital Detox Fundraiser

While the idea of individuals raising money for charity by being sponsored to give something up for a period of time isn’t by any means new, there does seem to have been a growing interest in charity ‘abstainathons’ just recently – with new takes on the old idea cropping-up all over the place.

To name just a few, Cancer Research UK raised almost £4 million ($USD 6.4m) earlier this year when over 35,000 people signed-up to it’s inaugural Dryathalon – raising sponsorship for giving-up alcohol for the whole of January. Then there’s Macmillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober for October (based on the Australian Dry July campaign). The fundraising extension of the annual NHS stop smoking campaign Stoptober, with ex-smokers raising funds for a wide range of different charities. And, of course, this month there’s Movember (another great Aussie import) raising awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer charities through guys giving-up shaving their ‘tash for the month.

But now, the folks at FebFast over in Australia have moved beyond booze, fags and facial hair to fundraise from the other big over-dependence that so many of us have these days – over-dependence on all things digital. What a brilliant idea!

They’re challenging people to go on a digital detox for the 28 days of February 2014 to help raise funds for organisations working to find solutions for youth addiction.

Other FebFast fundraising options are to abstain from Alcohol, Sugar, or Caffeine – any of which seems to me likely to be easier than giving-up my regular digital fixes throughout the day.

Is there any real future for QR Codes in fundraising?

Any future for QR Code Fundraising?

The news last month that Microsoft has decided to discontinue Tag, its proprietary alternative to QR Codes, has sparked a fresh debate as to whether there is really any future in them at all.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of QR (Quick Response) Codes – you’re not alone, based on the lack of success being achieved incorporating them into campaigns. In short they are the little square maze-like icons that you may see on press ads, posters, or product packaging that smartphone users who have downloded a relevant App can use to open a related webpage simply by snapping a photo of the code.

Sounds great! Just one-click from a press ad or poster to your website – what could be better for things like emergency appeal donations? That’s certainly what I had hoped when I first blogged about these neat little response icons back in 2008.

However, five years on QR Codes really haven’t caught-on with smartphone wielding consumers and are more often the focus of ridicule than the basis for great campaign results. Just last week Econsultancy commented on how hard it was to find any recent success stories to update their list of QR Code case studies.

This really is a great pity. As the idea of users being able to respond online through their phone to any physical advertisement without the need to type a URL into their mobile web browser remains a good one – especially with so many people now carrying smartphones. Unfortunately, a couple of key issues have combined to seriously restrict successful QR Code adoption to date.

Firstly, there is the issue of the user having to download a QR Code reader app and open it before they can scan a code. If only the in-built Camera Apps pre-installed on smartphones made scanning them easier then adoption would have been far faster.

Secondly, for those consumers who have bothered to equip their phones with an App the experience of using QR codes has generally been very far from satisfactory. The ease with which the codes can be created and linked to existing websites has led to them generally being thrown in to campaigns as an afterthought – often placed in stupidly unscannable places (from the top of buildings to footballers heads) or linking to non mobile-optimised websites. The end result being that many of those who did bother to adopt the technology have now generally given-up on it.

Recent research by Global Web Index apparently showed “Scanned a QR Code” as the mobile behaviour showing the greatest increase from Q2 2012, with 30% of respondents globally saying they had used them. So perhaps there is a future in them – if advertisers and fundraisers start to use them properly.

But, for now, I see no evidence of any successful fundraising application of the technology at all – while the use of good old SMS response on advertising has seen such a resurgence in the UK that it has led to restrictions on the number of charity ads being allowed on London trains.

Anyone out there seen any successful examples of QR Codes in fundraising? Do leave a comment to let me know.

American Red Cross Hurricane App wins Digitals 2013 Not for Profit Award

A diverse range of campaigns and projects were shortlisted for the Charity and Not for Profit Category of this year’s The Digitals Awards, including the WaterAid Big Dig campaign I worked on in Malawi last summer. However, when the winners were announced last night it was the American Red Cross Hurricane App that took the prize.

Developed by Dorset-based digital agency 3 Sided Cube, the Hurricane App was launched in June 2012 and became the third most downloaded app in the US (only beaten by YouTube and National Geographic) when Hurricane Sandy hit in October that year.

Providing everything from a live location-tailored hurricane tracker and preparation checklists, to shelter maps and an ‘I’m Safe’ messaging service, it’s a great example of when Mobile App technology can really meet a need in a way that no other solution can (which is sadly not the case with the majority of non profit apps I see).

A worthy award winner!

Last few places available on my IFC Integrated Digital Planning Masterclass in October

International Fundraising Congress 2012

If you’re thinking of attending the annual International Fundraising Congress over in Holland this October (along with hundreds of fundraisers from over 60 countries) and would like to give your digital fundraising a real strategic boost, then do book on to the Integrated Digital Fundraising Masterclass I’m running on the first two days (15th and 16th).

Combining planning theory with examples from projects I’ve worked on across a whole load of different countries, I’ll be covering everything from overall strategic planning approaches, stakeholder consultations and opportunity evaluation, to the details of integrated activity and resource planning – so it should be fun (if you like that sort of thing)!

It’s a charities/non-profits only Masterclass and to enable me to tailor the content as much as possible to the attendees the numbers are limited, but when I last heard from the convention organisers there were still a few places left. So, if you’re interested head over to their website and get yourself signed-up – and I’ll see you there.

The main Convention programme (16th, 17th, and 18th October) also has a whole lot of great digital fundraising sessions, as well as pretty well every other aspect of fundraising you can think of, and as a regular attendee I can guarantee it’s an event like no other for refreshing your fundraising fuel tank.

If you’re not able to make it to Holland, or to get a Masterclass place, but are interested in giving your online fundraising team a strategic boost then I do run equivalent tailored training workshops for in-house teams – just drop me a note via the contact form here and I’ll see what I can do.