A creative approach to digital fundraising with Howard Lake

By Amanda Rigali on

Emma-Pickering-Sadlers-WellsOn Monday 28th April 2014, the London and South West fellows all headed to the A New Direction offices in Old Street for a session on thinking creatively about digital fundraising with Howard Lake.

The session was set to be a great follow-on from our sessions with Howard at the National Arts Fundraising School. It was a good time to reflect on any successful digital fundraising experiences that we had been a part of, or heard of, in the last few months.

These included two huge digital fundraising phenomena: the ‘no make up selfie’, which raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK, and Stephen Sutton, a 19 year old man with terminal cancer whose strength, determination and positivity has seen his JustGiving page raise over £3 million for Teenage Cancer Trust. Both demonstrated what can be achieved if organisations are able to build upon a shared story and shared emotions, displaying the impact of (mainly) smaller donation giving.

Our first task involved thinking about how we can tie in topical news stories or occurrences within our fundraising, whether it is for an event or an appeal. An example of this can be seen with a number of charities in the last week that have used the London tube strikes to support their fundraising. Howard gave the example of the Houblon £50 note going out of circulation on Wednesday 30th April. Fundraising ideas around this milestone were incredibly varied and very creative, such as placing a donor’s face in the face of a £50 note via the ‘face in hole’ application, to create a wall of donors who had supported a cause. There was also the idea for £50 representing one ‘brick’ for a capital refurbishment campaign, and organisations creating a £50 Amazon wishlist, which people could purchase to support a cause. Working on the Bank of England’s video for what to do with your old £50 notes, one participant suggested the idea of making a similar video led by their artistic director, describing what could be achieved with £50 to support their organisation.

We then went on to discuss the various different digital platforms that we would use in relation to the ideas above, thinking about their strengths and weaknesses. It was also important to think about the timescale that these platforms require to be successful when part of a larger appeal, or in the build up to an event.

For example, Crowdfunding is a very successful form of digital fundraising. In 2012 Kickstarter enabled 86,000,000 visitors to pledge $319,786,629. However, a campaign through crowdfunding needs a lot of time and dedication, making sure that the momentum is kept up throughout. This brought up discussions on how to manage a crowdfunding appeal, and balance it with offline donations. For example, if a major donor wanted to give a large donation via cheque, you could ask for them to break it down into smaller amounts, and give some of these online. Perhaps they may like to be the person who closes the gap on the campaign, or gets the ball rolling. The latter has very interesting psychological effects on other small donors in encouraging them to give more.

To conclude, I recently read a report which explored the various different external factors which shape digital fundraising. The main focus of this report was the notion of trust, and following on from the session; I think that this is an important grounding in digital fundraising. It is important to think about timings of digital campaigns, and making sure your organisation is confident in the message it is putting out and expressing the support it already has. With so much scrutiny in the media about charities and the way they spend their money, we all need to think about how our campaigns read externally and to be clear about why the funding is necessary. The one thing we all know about digital is that news spreads fast.

dig fundraising

Posted by Amanda Rigali

Amanda is Director of Strategic Development at Cause4, and Head of the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme. As well as running the Programme, Amanda runs fundraising training sessions for cultural professionals across England and offers intensive strategy support to a range of charities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *