12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #1 Truly Personalised Video Thanking

2011 was a bit of a quiet year here on Giving In A Digital World, as a combination of client work and house renovations took-up all the spare time I normally spend researching and writing posts. However, in response to a number of folks saying that they missed my occasional updates and ideas (which was really encouraging) I’m officially planning to get things back on track this year. Starting with what I hope will be a thought provoking short series on what I think will be 12 important digital fundraising trends for 2012. I’m aiming to post a few of these each week throughout the month of January – then we’ll have the whole of the rest of the year to see just how wrong I was!

First-off, something that I started to see fundraisers doing last year but which I think we will see a whole lot more of in the future: Truly Personalised Video Thanking. As an illustration of what I mean by this, take a look at the video above about charity: water’s 5th Anniversary donor thanking initiative, which has to be the gold standard in the art of digital thanking.

Of all the ways in which charity: water’s staff and volunteers personally thanked their supporters – telephone, letter, email, and video –  it is the YouTube thank you videos which have the most exciting potential to have impact beyond the immediate 1-to-1 thank you. Because when they’re done in such an authentic, enthusiastic, and fun way they become perfect shareable digital content. The sort of thing that I’d imagine lots of their supporters shared with their friends on Facebook, with the result that not only did the donor receive a uniquely personal experience of the charity: water brand, but so did everyone within their online social network. Great for driving both brand awareness and consideration.

The creation of these 250 short personalised videos clearly involved a lot of effort. But it is the True Personalisation that results from this investment of time and creativity that really makes them stand-out in a world where data-driven ‘mass-personalisation’ now just looks like so tired. And it’s this personal stand-out that makes them into content worthy of being shared through supporters’ personal social networks. Far more so than the sort of generic, well meaning but typically rather worthy videos that most charities send to their supporters.

Interestingly, telecomms. provider O2 also jumped onto the Truly Personalised Video trend this Christmas with their #o2santa Twitter and YouTube campaign. In response to a Tweet to @O2 with the hashtag #02santa, you received a completely personalised – and well adlibbed – YouTube video message from The Man himself.

To see what I mean, and how great Santa’s ad-libs are, here’s the Tweet I sent (I was prepping a workshop for WWF at the time, so they were front of mind) and the video message I got back:

Now, by highlighting this form of supporter thanking I’m not saying that you should all grab video cameras or smartphones and make a fun personalised video for everyone on your database. However, there are some types of your supporters for which this might prove especially effective – perhaps if they are involved in sponsored events or community fundraising and so can share your video to thank all those who supported their personal fundraising activity.

At the very least, before releasing any form of online video content do think about whether it is likely to be something that your supporters will be keen to share more widely through their own networks, by asking yourself the following question:

Does it make good use of the digital opportunities available to really bring someone closer to your work; help them understand the impact their support will have; motivate them to give again; and make the experience of supporting such that they want to share it with their friends?

One last example to end with – which isn’t personalised beyond being originally sent to thank donors to a specific appeal, but which is wonderfully authentic and ticks all the right boxes – from child’s i foundation:

If you come across any other good examples of other organisations using Truly Personalised Video Thanking do share them by leaving a comment below.


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