Dream Big, Start Small — 8 Ways to Go Digital at Your Charity

So you want to know how to do it? You really think you’re ready?

This one ain’t for the faint of heart – we’re about to get really digital, really fast. I want you to dream big. Don’t just say you’re ‘going to take it to next level’, be proactive and do it.

Here are 8 ways you can go digital at your organization:

  1. Donation Page Customization – What better place to start than where you want your online donors to end up? Your donation page is often the most critical point in your donor’s online journey. Make it stupid simple to complete a transaction by asking only for the most pertinent information presented in a clean, non-distracting design.
  2. eDMs – We could talk house mailings, buckslips and coupons until we’re blue in the face. But if you’re serious about digital, you should be supporting some or all of your mailings with email (i.e. email appeals sent before and/or after a DM package drops). Convert the message and design of the mailing into an email and send to those DM donors for whom you have an email address. You’ll be surprised at the lift you receive in response.
  3. Email Marketing – eDMs are a logical, small-scale starting point. But you do need to think about the rest of the year. What will you say to your donors/supporters when you’re not asking for money? eAdvocacy? eNewsletter? Just don’t “eMakeItUp” on the fly! Make an eCommunications plan and stick to it.
  4. Online Public Relations – The first 3 ways are targeted at individuals who are already interested in you. However, there’s a lot to be said for communicating en masse – the public and media deserve to hear of your charity’s great work. Make it so by releasing quarterly social media press releases to influential bloggers and local or national media to help spread the news about your charity and how awesome it is.
  5. Social Media Strategy – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, StumbleUpon…. The list is exhausting! Jumping in strategy-less is unacceptable. Once you have decided that your charity is socially anaemic, take a crash course in the top social media channels and see which, if any, correlate with your cause and its mission and objectives. And remember the most important piece of the puzzle: your audience. You need to be where they are. Next Stop: Strategyville!
  6. Website Redesign and Optimization – So, you think you’re a digital expert now? If so, then let’s break out the big guns. I’ve eased you into the digital world and let you get familiar with your surroundings, so now you can tackle that behemoth of a website! If you can, you should probably start from scratch. Either way, get your marketers, fundraisers and techies together in one room and build a list of your requirements, then (this is most important) get the experts to make it a reality. Your website is not a DIY project; you do not want to get to the point where you’re calling up Mike Holmes to make it right.
  7. Online Advertising – The online PR piece in Part 1 was a small start. For a more targeted approach to reaching specific audiences online, try advertising. Display (aka banner and video ads), Google, Facebook, etc. Whether campaign-focused, seasonal or year-round, online advertising is a smart channel for specific targeting that can yield positive ROI when strategically planned and financially invested in.
  8. Integrated Campaigns – You’ve done it all – mastered the building blocks of digital marketing – now you, your board and all your key stakeholders think it time to target a new audience with a big idea! Building a branded, time-limited campaign that integrates Digital with DM and Mass means reaching new donors, new demographics and new media. It’s about combining the best and most effective marketing channels to maximize results and build your donor base for the future.

Bonus: Data Analytics & Online Tracking – Relevant for all of the 8 ways to go digital is Data Analytics and Online Tracking. In every sub-channel of digital (webpages to email to ads), it is imperative to have in place the correct technical tools to capture Key Performance Indicators (e.g. visits and clicks), Conversions and Revenue. Google Analytics is only the beginning. Always ask how you will measure success.

This article is published as part of NTEN’s Member Appreciation Month.

Simren Deogun
Account Manager, Digital
Stephen Thomas Ltd
Simren Deogun, Director, Digital Innovation, helps ST’s clients exceed their marketing and fundraising objectives through strategic thought leadership. Simren earned her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in Business and English, then began her career in the technology sector, starting her off on a journey to becoming an expert in digital fundraising. She has a proven track record of attracting new donors and supporters to her clients’ cause while making sure existing donors feel even closer to the organizations they’re supporting. From developing strategic campaign plans and leading website builds to launching online and email fundraising and marketing programs, Simren leads the agency’s digital and integrated efforts for all of ST’s clients including Kids Help Phone, Médecins Sans Frontières, Surf Life Saving Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and more. Simren has established herself as an expert in digital marketing, fundraising, and advocacy in the nonprofit sector at large, and as a thought-leader with regular articles in Hilborn’s CharityInfo.ca and other industry publications, webinars and speaking engagements.