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Digital Fundraising Strategies for Charities

Fundraising Strategies for Charities

Charity Fundraising


Fundraising is not only a key source of income for charities, but it is also an opportunity to engage with members of the public on issues they care about. For many charities, creating an effective digital fundraising campaign, that successfully engages with your target personnel can be a challenging prospect. But fear not, we’re here to help! Below we’ll explore some key fundraising tasks and suggest some initial strategies to hopefully achieve success in digital.

Don’t forget to share this post with others, to spread the message that good digital for charities and non-profits is needed now more than ever.


Charity Lottery

Lottery activity can work exceptionally well, which has caused them to become increasingly popular across larger charities. We know the market is extremely competitive, therefore In such a crowded space, it is crucial to allocate spend wisely.

The priority for allocating budget should be Paid Search, as this provides the best Return on Investment (ROI), by targeting people who are looking to play a lottery at that moment. Think of personas such as ‘Lottery Liz’.


Lottery Liz Charity Persona

Liz has very predictable online habits and her browsing habits are mainly based around fashion sites and online newspapers. She regularly takes part in charity lotteries with her friends. Her first interaction with the activity could come through Display Advertising on sites such as dailymail.co.uk. She may not click on these ads, but when she sees paid search ads for your charity when looking for a new lottery for her friends, she’ll remember the ads she saw and decides to investigate more.

Both Google Paid Search and Bing Paid Search can be utilised in this strategy. In addition, display marketing should be employed to raise awareness of the product during key periods, such as a Superdraw or Christmas draw. Although the CPA on the awareness side of the activity will be high, the increased awareness should drive an increase in searches and therefore improve Paid Search results.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) would also prove effective for long term revenue generation. Start with an initial website crawl or a more thorough technical audit, then prioritise tasks to improve website performance, which will also have knock-on benefits to the other activity.


Legacy Giving

Deciding to leave a gift in your will is a long process, with users unlikely to commit on their first few visits to the site. However, continued updates and content based on what your charity does in a broader context together with well-timed asks should help convert this audience. Successful campaigns are reliant on attracting users by having relevant and engaging content with a strong call to action to find out more.

Based on our research, we have identified a target online consumer for legacy giving – ‘Giving Gordon’. Gordon uses the internet to look up sports results and regularly visits the BBC Sport page. He doesn’t use many social media channels, but he uses Facebook to keep in contact with his children. He worries that his affairs are not in order, and the death of his mother has spurred him to consider writing a will. He doesn’t know much about the process, and so searches for a guide to writing a will online. Whilst browsing Facebook, he notices an ad for a free downloadable will guide from your charity. With a strong connection with your charity, he downloads the guide and it gets him thinking about leaving a gift in his new will to the charity.


Giving Gordon Charity Persona


For this type of activity, the majority of investment should be focused around Facebook advertising. This is because Facebook allows for careful targeting around people who have just experienced specific ‘life events’, which allows you to target users in line with our research. Other channels should include both Paid Search and SEO. By providing high quality content supporters would be encouraged to stay engaged with your charity. Then through automated marketing and email, they can be up sold to the free will writing service at the appropriate time.


Challenge Events

Fundraising events are a great way to engage supporters and raise revenue. An effective marketing strategy for challenge events should drive sign ups, predominately by using a combination of paid search and bursts of display activity and Facebook Ads. In addition to this, both existing content and new content, along with automated marketing, should be utilised to aid these channels in increasing event sign ups and to provide value to those that sign up to your fundraising events.

Based on the research we have conducted, we have initially created the following example personas based on the people we believe are most likely to sign up to your charity’s fundraising events.

‘Event Ellie’ spends a lot of time on Facebook, sharing links to her fundraising page and encourages others to sponsor her while sharing the work that your charity does. In the lead up to the event, she posts updates on her training regime. When the event is over, she updates her photos from the big day.

‘Challenge Colin’ spends plenty of time on events forums reading about others’ experiences, sharing his own stories and looking for the next crazy challenge he can take part in. He regularly logs into Facebook and likes pages of his friends who take part in events.


Event Ellie & Challenge Colin Event Personas


Nothing is more effective at driving sign ups than targeting people who are searching for these events, and this is where Paid Search comes in. Although Google Ads is an effective medium for this, Bing Ads can also be successfully utilised as there is less competition on Bing and you can reach a different, yet still relevant audience to increase sign ups.

We would suggest producing banner advertising, firstly to use as remarketing to users who have visited your site, but also to increase awareness and promote events on relevant websites. To save on costs, make use of responsive ads for smaller events.

Finally, utilise email marketing, combined with a continued supply relevant content, to allow your charity to maintain a relationship with users who have downloaded a guide or similar content. They can be encouraged to support your charity through fundraising for an appropriate event through communication when appropriate.


Regular Giving

Digital Marketing is a very effective medium for driving donations, both single and regular. Paid search is again, going to be your most effective channel when it comes to ROI, but there is going to be a limited ‘relevant’ reach. So, you will need to couple this with some awareness activity across video, display and social.

As usual, try to identify your target personas. For example, ‘Donation Donna’ is a married mother of two, and her online habits involve visiting online news sites and the national trust page to find her next day trip location. Her children have recently moved out and she has more disposable income, which she wants to put towards a good cause.


Donation Donna Charity Persona


Video across social media and YouTube is currently exceptionally cost-effective and combined with its impact and focused targeting, we recommend it as a powerful tool with which to start engagement on fundraising products. In addition to this, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter should also be used to benefit from their extensive targeting options. Finally, automated marketing should also be used to encourage the sense of community and friendship with the new product.


As always, we’d love to hear more about your own specific strategies, so if you’d like to find out more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch!


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    Fundraise with Digital Marketing – Part 1: Foundation Strategies

    Fundraise with Digital Marketing

    Fundraise with Digital Marketing


    At a time when fundraising in the sector is becoming increasingly difficult, digital is offering an increasingly effective channel.

    Now, as the digital fundraising sector is reaching a level of maturity, despite the constantly changing technical and cultural landscape, clear best practices are starting to emerge. This is the first of a series of blogs that upriseUP intend to publish to help pass on our learnings.

    Here we are looking at the initial strategies needed for success in digital. These are the things that need to be in place before even starting to plan the detail of what activity will run on what channel.

    In many instances these could also be thought of as mindsets, but they highlight common processes and systems, that benefit campaigns. Put simply, when we have seen these methodologies come together, they deliver successful online campaigns. Without them many digital fundraising campaigns fail.


    The main strategic factors we would like to cover are:


    Fundraising Diagram 1-1.jpg


    These blogs are written for people working in, or with an interest in, fundraising. Not necessarily digital or marketing. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any unexplained jargon. However, should you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you and find out how we could help. Please email us at href=”mailto:info@upriseup.co.uk”>hello@upriseup.co.uk.



    Decide on Objectives

    An apparently easy one to start off with, but it is surprising how often fundraising campaigns are planned and launched without clear specific goals in place. Tracking these goals is then paramount to success – but we will come to that in the later section on Analytics.

    For now, we have broken down the types of objectives that need to be clearly understood:

    • What is the fundraising product?
    • How will supporters be able to help?
    • Are successful goal completions being tracked?
    • What is the required ROI (Return On Investment)?


    What is the fundraising product?

    Never lump several needs into one campaign, such as “donate to our cause, buy from our shop and if you have time complete a challenge”. Unless this is formed around an exceptionally tight message, it simply does not work.

    Supporters need a clear indication as to how they can help. You can provide alternatives if they need them, but make your primary goal clear.


    How will supporters be able to help?

    Be clear about how supporters will be able to help. If it is through online donations, ensure the site can support that. If you would prefer regular gifts rather than single donations, have a default regular giving ask on the landing page.


    Are goal completions being tracked?

    So important to have mechanisms in place to track your success against all types of visitors. We talk about this more under Analytics.


    What is the required ROI (Return On Investment)?

    It is essential to know what success looks like, especially if you are investing (financially or otherwise) in the campaign. Are you looking to build awareness or maximise on ROI? If there is a clear single donation ask, how much do you need to see as a return for every £100 you spend?



    Know your Audience

    Understand the audience that you are targeting as this will have a huge impact in how to target them and the message that you want to get across. Are they a ‘warm’ audience or ‘cold’, male or female, young or old?

    Two practices that we run through with this are: research and creating personas.


    1.  Research


    Desk research

    Whatever did we do before Google? Research your sector (medical research, children, mental health, animals etc) and audiences against the online channels you are considering. A couple of good places to start are:

    • http://www.npt-uk.org/philanthropic-resources/uk-charitable-giving-statistics
    • https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf-uk-giving-web.pdf



    Once you are tracking your web traffic effectively, Google Analytics (Universal) will be able to provide you with all sorts of demographic data on who is doing what.



    Your can conduct your own surveys incredibly cheaply now to get real audience insights. And the data available can make a massive difference to a campaign’s bottom line. We’d recommend starting with Google Surveys: href=”http://www.google.com/analytics/surveys”>www.google.com/analytics/surveys



    So long as it is well maintained, your own database of supporter information should be able to give you real nuggets as to the type of person that fits your sympathetic supporter profile.


    Google insights

    Understand what issues people are concerned with, any seasonality trends that go along with them and also the language they use by knowing the popularity of search queries in Google: trends.google.co.uk


    Benchmark Data

    It is exceptionally powerful to either measure yourself against what has gone before, but also against other charities in the same field. CharityComms organise a particularly good one for medium to large charities.


    2.  Personas


    Utilising personas is an extremely effective exercise at the beginning of a digital marketing campaign. It helps organisations consider their target audiences by considering the type of person – or people that they are marketing too.


    Personas should be built by first researching the audience types that will likely make a contribution to that organisation. This information can then be collected and used to give texture to an example of a particular person, detailing:

    • Their demographic information
    • Their interests and beliefs
    • What their average day is like
    • What they are concerned about
    • How they would like to be involved
    • What kind of messaging would speak to them
    • Their Digital Media habits


    Answers to questions like this provide insight into which creative should be used on which channel, and what time of day.


    Once marketing campaigns are launched they need to be adapted to the results, but really considering the audience forces marketers into a conducting useful research which will usually provide insights into an effective starting point for the initial plan.


    Examples of personas that we have created are:

    Fundraising personas.jpg



    It is important that Digital doesn’t become separated from the organisation’s overall marketing and communications.

    Typically, across all fundraising campaigns, the most effective place to start is with people who have already shown an interest in the organisation. This could be members, past donors, challenge event supporters or beneficiaries. Therefore, the real risk is that a disjointed approach across different channels, each focusing on a different campaign will generate mixed messaging issues with the most important of audience. In turn this can lead to a disengagement with the charity brand as a whole.

    It’s not just about risk. In many instances there are a number of powerful opportunities when ensuring synergy between on and off- line.


    These are the main aspects we check to ensure a synergy with offline fundraising:


    The ask

    Quite simply, is the same campaign or a similar one running offline? If so:

    • There needs to be a consistent look and feel across the two.
    • All messaging should be double-checked to ensure that nothing is conflicting between on and off-line
    • Offline resources should be able to refer to online counterparts, such as web copy, social media pages, and anything else that is appropriate
    • Also, visa-versa, is there a ‘Guide to our work’ or similar publication that would make a good e-book?



    It takes time to research, draft, check and ‘polish’ good content. Often this is done for offline brochures and leaflets, but is not done for websites. Our belief is that users considering becoming involved in the fundraising efforts of a charity are very eager to understand that charity and the need it is engaged with helping. They want to read about it! – and having a place where content (already written for offline activities) can sit is a significant opportunity.



    Its not just about the written word. Photos, graphics, infographics and the brand guidelines themselves can all be share. In fact, many image ads for digital display advertising will take photos and other images and generate banner formats from them in a way that suits the page they are on – automatically. This not only reduces the cost involves but helps generate a connection between on and offline.



    Messaging and channel selection will likely vary considerably depending on the engagement journey an organisation is aiming to achieve.

    For a quick appeal campaign, where there is an urgent need, paid search campaigns, such as advertising on Google may yield the quickest return at the most effective ROI. This might be especially effective for an international Disaster Relief Campaign such as the British Red Cross. This would effectively bring in traffic further down the funnel, at a time when they are more likely to donate – but there are only ever a limited number of those people.

    However, some brands are built over time from continued strong messaging in the right places. The WWF might show impactful videos and banner ads (display) to a targeted audience and over time ask them to sponsor an animal, leading to strong regular giving momentum.


    Fundraising Funnel.jpg


    Often a variety of channels are used together, the available quick return, high ROI traffic that paid search can deliver is limited, and at this point a wider brand awareness campaign supports the charity’s efforts.



    Automated Marketing

    Automated marketing is poised to make a significant impact to the charity sector. We are already seeing great advancements in other sectors – and in charities in the USA. There is real potential for it to be used to build engagement for potential contributors to charities in the UK, and we expect to see significant increase in the usage of Automated in the UK charity sector in 2018.

    Automated marketing relies on good content and useful online resources that users will be willing to sign-up for.


    Sue Ryder Engagement Funnel Version 4.png

     Funnel showing simplified user journeys from our Automated Marketing activity

    Once the user signs up to a mailing list, organisations are then able to build a relationship with newsletters, requests to sign a petition, and other communications which engage with those users. Also, this messaging and the engagement journey the user takes can be automated by systems pre-set that are designed to move users to act by understanding their interests and engaging with those interests effectively.



    The Product Experience

    Crucial to the success of the campaign is the product itself and how it is sold.

    It might be a great idea, or a very current appeal campaign. It might also be pretty standard as a concept – regular giving online donations, run the London Marathon. The setup of the landing page, and the journey you take the user on, is crucial. Converting people is dependent on a good product presented well.


    This is not content on UX, (User experience), or CRO, (Conversion Rate Optimisation), although watch this space for something along those lines too. For now, however, here are common considerations that can significantly maximise on the conversions delivered from the traffic a site achieves:


    Detail the need

    Be very clear about what the situation is that you need help to resolve. Give details as to the scale of the problem but also focus in on individual stories.


    Detail the solution

    Be clear about what your charity is doing to help. Demonstrate to the audience that you have an ethos and a system that is working to tremendous effect. Also show them that you have a plan – that with their help can ensure that the organisation goes on to provide continued support, maybe at a greater scale.


    Bring the story to life with engaging media

    Video, sound, photos and other images really do speak to audiences in ways that text can never reach. They are especially important at speaking to audiences on an emotional level which is our goal.


    Have clear call to action

    It’s simple stuff, but you need to let the user know what you want them to do – in a way that they can identify if they only look at the landing page (or subsequent journey pages) for a couple of seconds.


    -And make the call to action easy to follow!

    Very important this one. Many potential supporters will drop out if you make their journey too cumbersome. Give alternative payment options and make them easy. Make any forms simple and with as few fields to complete as possible. And please, wherever possible try to avoid asking users to print a form and post it back to you!



    Test and Learn – an Agile Approach

    Launch, test, learn and adapt is a basic tenant of effective digital strategies. Long gone are the fixed yearly budgets, basically a re-hash of the previous year. Now there are myriad changing external factors such as technology, consumer habits and competitor activity. And our campaigns need to change and adapt appropriately.


    Not only that, but there are infinite different targeting combinations out there – and we effectively track and evaluate each one, so why wouldn’t we have fun, continuously trial different approaches and learn from the results we get.


    Agile Marketing.jpg

    Any long-term planning should always contain a healthy contingency budget. Build as much flexibility into things as possible. After launch, all elements need to be tested. What copy works, what audiences perform well – what messaging do they respond to?

    All this is needed so that plans can be revised on the fly. And this extends to budgets too. If a definite ROI has been set, are targets being met? – Should budgets be lowered (or increased)?


    All of this relies on good quality data. And that is the subject of our next blog – Analytics and data analysis.


    If you want to know how your charity could benefit from digital fundraising, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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      Making a Splash: Uprise Up Fundraises for Swim22

      Uprise Up staff fundraise for Swim22

      Swim 22

      From 22nd February to 22nd May, 6 Uprise Up staff took the plunge and each swam 22 miles for Diabetes UK, raising £708.41 in the process!

      Initially, challengers had 3 months to swim the breadth of the English Channel, and our MD joined with only 1 month to go, making waves as he finished 3 days before the end! – though he then needed a couple of trips to the physio to put his back right again!

      Doing it together made a huge difference and we all felt the unity that formed within our team. Charting our progress generated some healthy competition but also created a buzz which brought swimmers closer together, encouraging each other to get closer to the finish line.


      Diabetes Swim22 Progress Chart


      We are so proud of our Uprise Up family, even the non-swimmers got involved by supporting and willing us to keep going with generous donations – everyone wanted to know our progress! There were times we thought we wouldn’t make it, but after a couple of months we all gained speed and propelled towards the end. It was great individually raising money whilst doing it and we are extremely happy with the results.

      Whilst some decided 22 miles was more than enough, others, including myself, discovered the joys of swimming and decided to make it part of their regular fitness routine.

      We work with a lot of charities promoting fundraising based campaigns and getting involved first hand in the events really helps us understand and connect with the fantastic causes that we work with. It was hard work, but being part of such a great cause was a huge motivation for reaching that finish line.

      Diabetes UK is a very special and deserving charity; we are touched by the amount of support we received during and after the challenge and we want to thank everyone who sponsored us. We are proud to have contributed to their ongoing research and to help support those who have Diabetes.

      Diabetes UK are still taking Swim22 donations, so if you too would like to be part of the Uprise Up Swim22 fundraising team, get in touch with us at hello@upriseup.co.uk. Alternatively find out more about Diabetes UK and donate on their website here 


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