My test for great digital fundraising content

I mentioned this simple “test” that I use when reviewing or planning digital fundraising content when I wrote about Truly Personalised Video Thanking back in January, but it has generated so much positive discussion when I’ve been using it in workshops and planning sessions since then that I thought I’d give it a short post of its own. So, here it is again:

Does your content 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 (or give again); and make the experience of supporting such that they want to share it with their friends?

Breaking it down, to help illustrate what I mean:

  • Does it make good use of the digital opportunities available to really bring me closer to your work? Through digital we have a whole host of new ways to engage supporters in more relevant, authentic, and genuinely interesting ways than ever before. Yet all too often I still see online fundraising content that looks just like traditional printed material pasted onscreen or into an email (especially when it comes to those generic, text-heavy monthly eNewsletters that so many orgs persist in sending me). Take a look around at how other brands (nonprofit and commercial) are capitalising on new ways to engage through digital, and think about how you might be able to use some of these to really bring your supporters closer to the work they enable you to do. And remember – just because you send me a video doesn’t mean that you’re bringing me closer, especially if it’s more along the lines of a corporate promotion than an authentic window on the work you want me to support.
  • Does it help me understand the impact my support will have? Fundraising is all about inspiring and enabling people to help change the world for the better – and a key part of this is helping them understand the impact their personal support will have on what may well be a massive and complex need. Again, digital potentially offers new ways to achieve this that simply aren’t possible through traditional print or broadcast content – if we use it well.
  • Does it motivate me to give? If you’ve ticked the previous two boxes then you should be well on the way to motivating me to give. But don’t just bask in the warm glow of great content and take my donation for granted. You still need to make it very clear that you do need my support – and make it really easy for me to give it.
  • Does it make the experience of supporting such that I want to share it with my friends? Thanks to the ubiquity of social media these days, I can share your content with my whole social network with just one click. But my making that click depends on the experience I have when I engage with your content, and make my donation, and whether I feel it would be interesting/fun/relevant for my friends to experience too.

To help get some new content ideas moving, you can check back to a couple of my related posts on Personalised Video Thanking, and Strategic Blogger Outreach, as well as taking a look at the latest Oxfam ‘See For Yourself’ campaign to find a non-supporter to visit one of their their projects and report back on how donations are being used.

Plus – if you’ve seen any great content that you feel passes the ‘test’, then do share it by leaving a comment below…


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.

YouTube launches free in-video clickable ads for UK and US non-profit partners


Last week YouTube launched a new feature called ‘Call to Action’ for Non-profit Partners, allowing them to place overlay ads linking direct to their own website on their YouTube videos – for free. The clickable ads can direct viewers to any webpage, such as a secure donation page – essentially making YouTube videos into online DRTV ads.

To test the new feature, last Sunday YouTube placed a video for charity:water on its homepage, complete with a clickable overlay encouraging viewers to donate to fund water wells – and generated a very impressive $10,000 in donations in one day. So it certainly seems to work!

Before you get too excited about the potential to upload your latest video, add an overlay, and sit back as the money just rolls-in, you need to bear in mind that the test video was on the YouTube homepage – which guaranteed it a whole load of traffic.

However, ‘Call to Action’ still represents an opportunity not to be missed for any non-profit with good quality video content looking to find a way to monetise their YouTube uploads. At least it does for US and UK non-profits – as I’m afraid that at present YouTube’s Non-profit Partner Programme is only available to organisations from those two countries. Although they are apparently intending to expand the programme.

So, if you’re a UK or US non-profit what’s stopping you? Click here to register as a Non-profit Partner and then all you need to do is go to ‘edit Video’ and complete the ‘Call to Action’ fields for your headline, promotional copy, and destination URL. If you’re feeling really adventurous you could even combine clickable overlays with YouTube’s ‘annotations’ functionality to develop interactive direct response ads.

And do leave a comment to let me know how you get on with it.

Which charity will be first to make use of YouTube Annotations interactivity?

Earlier this week YouTube released a new feature called ‘Annotations’ that allows you not only to annotate your uploaded video with captions, but also to create links within the video to other video clips or to your YouTube channel.

Easy captioning is a handy function, but it is the interactivity offered by the embedded links that makes this new feature particularly interesting. There are several simple demonstrations of what’s possible already on the site, including one involving the good old ‘pick a card trick’ shown above (which jumped from 300k to well over 2m views in a day – showing the level of interest in the feature) and a ‘find the shell’ game (keep going to the ‘hard’ video and just see where it leads you;-).

Interestingly, the annotations seem only work on YouTube and not when the videos are embedded elsewhere – which is unfortunate (and presumably why embedding on the ‘pick a card’ video has been ‘disabled by request’).

Ever since YouTube took-off I’ve had countless discussions about how best to use videos on the site to engage with consumers beyond simple viewings, comments and ratings- other than just including a URL for them to type into their browser. While still restricted to links within YouTube, this new feature does offer a new level of interaction which has the potential to be used in interesting ways by non-profits. For example as the basis for a personally guided, interactive video presentation of your work or support opportunities.

Thinking ahead, if links out of YouTube are added then the potential becomes even greater. Allen Stern at CentreNetworks suggests that external links could offer a new way for YouTube to monetize – through a small fee being paid to link products in videos to the product owner’s site or ecommerce sites.

Many non-profits are already making use of YouTube – so who will be the first to get into YouTube interactivity?

Insights, tips and tricks for online fundraising – it’s this week’s Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants

Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, a weekly blog carnival drawing together some of the best nonprofit news, advice and resources on offer across the blogosphere.

Each week a different host blogger sets a topic for this carnival and other bloggers submit posts on that theme – with the best seven being highlighted on the host’s blog. This week it’s my turn to host and the topic I chose was ‘Insights, tips and tricks for online fundraising’.

So, without further ado, here are seven online fundraising insight, tip and trick posts for you…

1. Starting off with some tips on how to evaluate and utilise Website architecture and and design to boost online fundraising from Jim Killion and Amanda Wasson of is7.

2. Staying with website design, Katya shares some tips from the latest study by Donordigital on what makes a great donation page.

3. And still on websites, for anyone at the early stages of website planning Jason King has posted the handy presentation he gave at the Connecting Up conference in Brisbane on Planning your non-profit’s website.

4. The Care2 folks over at Frogloop have reported on a recent survey that suggests that ‘51% of donors are not at all interested in Social Networks. However, apparently around a third of donors are somewhat or very interested in keeping-up with nonprofits through Social Media – rising to 40% for high level donors. Handy insight for social network fundraisers.

5. In her Nonprofits blog, Joanne Fritz shares some tips derived from UNICEF’s use of social networking and video-sharing sites.

6. For email fundraisers, here are Ten tips from Network for Good to help prevent your emails being deleted.

7. Finally, over at onLine, Garth Moore examines the potential of the new generation of ad funded click-to-donate applications.

That’s it for this week. You can keep track of the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants as it travels around from site to site by subscribing to the Carnival feed.

Crisis ‘Send a Singer’ Christmas online fundraising campaign hits its £1m target


Back at the end of October I wrote about an innovative online corporate fundraising campaign that our team at WWAV Rapp Collins had just developed for homelessness charity Crisis.

Based around the microsite, the idea was for companies to replace their traditional Christmas cards with video e-cards of carols sung by choirs made-up of folks who have been helped through Crisis projects – and the target was to raise £1 million.

The great news is that this ambitious target has now been met! A success celebrated through a double page advertisement in the Financial Times today (using space donated by the paper) listing all of the companies who took part.

All in all, a great example of how the video capabilities of today’s high speed internet can be used to deliver innovative, fun, and highly successful online fundraising.

Anyone else out there using video to raise money from either corporate or individual donors? If so, let us know how you’re getting-on by using the comment function below.

Never mind YouTube contests – equip your supporters as citizen journalists


On Wednesday the UN’s food agency, The World Food Programme, launched what it described as a “unique international competition” called Hunger Bytes – calling for budding film-makers to “put their creativity towards raising awareness about hunger”, through the creation of 30 to 60 second videos. The top five selected by WFP will be posted on YouTube and whichever receives the most views will win its creator a chance to visit and film one of WFP’s relief operations.

While I’m not sure how “unique” using YouTube to encourage the creation of promo videos for causes is these days, their competition is a good reminder of the potential of YouTube as a platform from which individuals can help promote a cause.

However, if you really want to maximise on the potential of online video it’s worth thinking beyond straightforward competitions for online promos.

We live in a world where citizen journalism is becoming increasingly common – as shown by all the requests for photos or video footage on TV news shows. At the same time, research into what donors want in return for their support increasingly highlights the importance of helping them to understand just how their money delivers the goods – especially donors in the ‘Baby Boomer’ demographic.

So, how about putting the two together? Capitalising on the ease with which good quality video content can be filmed, edited and posted online to enable groups of supporters – from all age groups – to become citizen journalists, reporting-back on your work to their peers.

For example, if you’re an animal welfare charity, could a small group of volunteers film the work of your veterinary team for a day to offer a ‘supporter’s eye view’ on how their donations are being used? They might need some help to produce a quality product, but it could make for an interesting and engaging alternative to the day-to-day newsletters and updates that people are used to receiving (and all too often ignoring)?