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DIGITAL SKILLS: FIVE QUESTIONS CHARITIES SHOULD BE ASKING THEMSELVES 

21/04/2017  |  BY SARAH CARLIN

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According to this year’s Charity Digital Skills Report, just 27% of charities had aligned their digital and organisational strategies whilst 50% said that they didn’t have a digital strategy at all. 

With digital  –  a relatively low cost and highly targeted medium  – such a gift for charities, getting to the bottom of this problem is essential for the sector. With 75% of those interviewed saying they felt better digital skills could help drive fundraising and 69% saying they felt it could help their organisation deliver its strategy more effectively, it’s clear that digital technology and techniques could help further their aims.

So what should they be doing? Let’s start by looking at the all-important questions charities should be asking.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

Just tweeting or Facebooking into the ether is no good, you need to know why you’re doing it.The starting point for any campaign, whether standalone or long term should be what you want to achieve. When using digital, charities need to think about what they want to get out of their interactions, whether that’s driving donations, reaching out to those in need, building a supporter base, raising awareness or even lowering administration costs. Keep it simple and make sure whatever it is you’re trying to achieve aligns closely with your organisational strategy.

WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?

What you want to achieve through your digital marketing should help you think about the answer to the next question, who your audience is. Are you hoping to target would-be supporters? Potential service users? Possible volunteers? Engage stakeholders? Naturally, the bigger and more complex the offering of your organisation the more likely it is that you will be trying to reach several different audiences and each will need to be targeted in a slightly different way.

WHERE ARE THEY?

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you need to find out where you’re likely to find them online.For example, the charity trying to attract ABC1 donors will need to use different mediums to the one trying to reach potential millennial service users, with Facebook perhaps a more appropriate medium for the former and Snapchat for the latter. And in many cases social media may not be the way to go at all, with a pay per click (PPC) campaign likely to garner results much more quickly than any number of social media posts.

WHAT'S THE BEST WAY OF REACHING THEM?

One of the reasons digital marketing is such a gift to charities is that it can be so highly targeted. There’s a plethora of information about what groups consume what type of social media, and the sort of content they like best  – whether that’s video content or collaborative campaigns – and this will enable you to create content that will resonate, whether paid-for or organic.

WHO CAN HELP US?

52% of Charity Digital Skills survey respondents cited lack of funding as one of the biggest barriers to getting more from digital, while a further 57% said lack of skills was the problem. 

The good news, however is that there is plenty of free support available in these areas. Google, for example, donates £8,000 of Google Adwords credits to eligible charities per month through its Google Grants programme while YouTube has a Non-Profit programme that makes it simple for charities to maximise the power of their video content and benefit from perks such as increased upload capacity. For those without capacity to manage digital internally, and with certainly no budget for a full time post Digital Mums may be able to help.

Charities should also think about who can help them in-house  – a passionate chief executive or totally engaged outreach worker could both be ideal advocates for your organisation on social media, for example. 

Read more about SMACK’s third sector work here