by Joanne Roberts
Yesterday I donated online to the 999 Club’s Summer Shelter appeal
It’s #SmallCharityWeek and I wanted to give to a small, local charity.
But that’s not the main reason I clicked donate.
For years I worked for a homelessness charity in communications. I felt I understood many of the multiple and complex issues leading to a person becoming homeless. I knew of the larger charities providing services to homeless people through night shelters, supported hostels, advice, activities, employability support, drug and alcohol support, as well as influencing policy on housing and benefits etc.
That wasn’t what triggered my donation.
The fact that my last job was local and that I actually visited the charity and met the then director played a role in my donation. They had just undergone a major rethink and were planning a rebrand and website.
But even that didn’t move me to action.
What prodded me was the quote from a night shelter guest I read on the Twitter image: People don’t care in the summer, they think ‘oh well it’s summer now, it doesn’t matter’.
It reminded me of what came to mind one hot May day when I saw the young man I had been giving money to on and off in the winter sitting outside the shop drunk: ‘Well I guess he’s enjoying the summer now.’
In truth, it was probably the culmination of all of these things that caused me to click the button; there’s often a range of factors that influence donor decisions that are beyond your control. But you can control the content and messages that connect with your audiences.
A good piece of well-placed content can connect with and get under the skin of commonly-held public assumptions. This content often comes from service users, which is why it’s so important to give them opportunities to have their say – even if it is challenging for your organisation.
Content doesn’t stand alone. In this case, it was part of a pinned tweet including a link to a Crowdfunder page that featured a video (which I watched). Video is now the top way to share your stories of your service users, staff and service. The 999 Club used a filmmaker, but it can be just as effective to use your phone with free editing tools available. It’s worth having a go.
It also forms part of a series of branded images with quotes used in social media, which can be a very simple yet effective way of reinforcing your key messages on your website and in social media. Canva is a great free design tool for not-for-profits that is quick and easy to use, and there are plenty of royalty-free stock photography sites, like Pexels.
Coupled with a clear call to action and a simple form, these quotes were part of a strategy that seems to be working for the charity. They’ve raised just under £12,000 and are hopefully on track to reaching their £20,000 target.
Beware: online fundraising is content-hungry! You always need to feed the beast to keep in people’s sights, and that takes time. What worked for me may not work for other donors, but as long as you have a range of content pieces, each communicating a key message to your audiences, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Would you like help with planning and developing your content to fundraise online, boost your profile, or developing a storytelling culture within your organisation?
Contact us today for a complimentary 15-minute telephone consultation.