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Charities embrace social media and mobile technologies to connect with donors

Philanthropy trend

Charities are increasingly embracing social media and mobile technologies to boost giving and donor relations, according to a report by software and service provider for not-for-profits, Blackbaud, based on a survey of 1,500 charities from nine countries, including 301 from the UK.

Online giving still accounts for a “relatively low” proportion of overall giving, according to the report, and only 13% of UK charities received more than a quarter of total donations online during the past year. But 54% saw an increase in online donations during the last 12 months. 

UK charities reported the highest use or planned use of SMS giving, amongst 58% of respondents, according to the annual State of the Nonprofit Industry (SONI) survey. The next highest was amongst organisations in New Zealand (50%) and the Netherlands (44%).

Although special events are the most widely-used method to fundraise and recruit donors, with 89% of UK respondents having used the format in the past 12 months, or are planning to in the next year, this is closely followed by social media. Eighty four per cent reported they were either already using social media or planned to in the next 12 months.

Optimism about an organisation’s ability to find potential donors increased from 38% for organisations using fewer than three strategies to connect with donors to 59% for organisations employing more than three strategies.

“Optimism in the not-for-profit sector varies based largely on how an organisation communicates with its constituents and the technologies it employs,” said Marc Chardon, Blackbaud’s chief executive officer. “Generally, charities that adopt multiple engagement channels have a more optimistic outlook on their ability to recruit new donors, retain existing donors and grow individual contributions in the coming year.”

Charities and donors who want to leverage the power of social networking can turn to direct debit processing company Rapidata’s Friendship Powered Fundraising™  App, launched last month. It is the first event fundraising app to work entirely within Facebook where supporters can run their sponsored event fundraising campaigns without ever having to navigate away to other sites, including for donation payments.

Scott Gray, managing director of Rapidata, told Philanthropy UK: “We know that Facebook is used by half of the UK’s population and reaches out to people in lots of age groups from teenagers to pensioners.  Interestingly, figures show 61% of users are over 35, which is a good age group to tap into because it’s people with disposable income. There is great potential because users can see what their friends are doing and commenting on, including what they’re doing for charity and their asks for sponsorship donations.  As it’s amongst your known friends this builds trust, which is vital, and allows charities to extend the reach of their cause and organisation.”

Although the SONI survey found that online giving still accounts for a “relatively low” proportion of overall giving, Martin Campbell, Blackbaud Europe’s director of strategy and innovation, said that building relationships with donors is more valuable to non-profits than  a one-off donation.

Campbell said: “Social media, email and mobile allow a reciprocal relationship between charities and donors and enable a not-for-profit to communicate what they do far more effectively. What is important is that all channels are integrated and charities have a complete view of the increasingly complex donor and supporter landscape.”

Blackbaud’s survey covered charities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands,. New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This philanthropy trend article is tagged under:

  • Digital Giving