Charity digital strategy: Developing meaningful, long term engagement and finding the balance between fundraising and delivering core purpose

By Shaun Gomm | 20/04/2018

For many charities, developing long term relationships with the wide range of customers, supporters and stakeholders they engage with on a daily basis is critical of course. Digital channels (not just the website, but social media, apps, and other digital services), properly integrated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies, and coupled with the right governance, policy and process framework, can mean the difference between success and stagnation. 

In an increasingly competitive and controversial operating environment, the balance that charities need to find in their digital and consumer engagement strategies between meeting their fundraising goals and fulfilling their core purpose is challenging, but key to realising their long term goals.

There are so many worthy causes and so many homes for our charitable giving and our time. But while there are seemingly bottomless marketing budgets available to some of the larger, international charities, the smaller, equally worthy ones face a battle everyday to make every penny count in the delivery of their core purpose. In this environment, the design and implementation of a user-centred, carefully honed digital strategy can make all the difference. 

At Sigma, we work with a number of third sector organisations - some large, household names, but also a number of much smaller, grassroots charities and not-for-profit orgs. We're currently working with Mind, the mental health charity, to help them deliver a digital strategy that is rooted in a comprehensive understanding of how a wide range of users, from people in crisis to corporate partners and ambassadors, want to engage digitally with the organisation. 

Sunrise

Regardless of size and reach, consistently, these themes keep coming up in our work:

  • Helping charities manage the consumer journey: person in need > supporter > long term advocate
  • Balancing the delivery of digital content to help those people in need (seamlessly, easily, accessibly) with organisational fundraising goals (when and how they should ask for support)
  • Aligning the sometimes competing strands of the digital strategy around marketing, information provision, and advocacy or influencing policy
  • Building a culture of innovation and learning from start-ups or smaller, more responsive companies, particularly for larger charities or in more traditional organisational cultures
  • Making every penny count - translating digital interventions into tangible, measurable results

 

We're working now on an initiative to bring together third sector organisations to discuss, debate, support and learn from one another in addressing some of these critical issues. We'd like to facilitate and participate in some of the conversation, and to provide an opportunity for charities to help themselves and one another in understanding the potential for their digital channels to deliver better engagement and more meaningful relationships with their customers, supporters and the wider public. It's early days. This might mean a series of workshops or talks, it might result in some research or other insights, or it could be something else. So, if you're a third sector organisation that might like to join the conversation, you'd like to shape the approach, or you've got some insights and experiences ready to bring to the table, please do get in touch with me at shaun.gomm@sigma.se