Using technology in fundraising
If you read every article out there about how technology can change the way your organisation fundraises, you wouldn’t have a spare second in your day.
This one is different! Our State Manager for NSW and the ACT, Marie-Louise Carroll offers her to-the-point, practical and realistic tips on how technology truly can change the way we work with our donors and audiences.
We all know technology can be a double-edged sword: but used properly it should hit a useful balance.
What new technology takes away in terms of time, cost and new skills acquisition, it should return new avenues to reach donors, more compelling ways to tell your organisation’s story, assist giving methods to make donating easy and frictionless and give you the data and means to create targeted communications to segments of your supporters. But how? Read on to see how you can use tech to give your NFP an edge.
1. Use a CRM!
It might sound like a no-brainer to some, but we’re here to remind you anyway. A Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is the essential piece of any data-driven strategy. A CRM helps create institutional memory about donors, volunteers, event attendees, and others.
With high levels of development staff turnover, it’s crucial to get that key information — who gives, when they’ve last given, and why they give — into a central, secure and accessible location.
When you have a CRM filled with accurate and up to date information, you can build deeper relationships with supporters as an organisation.
2. Donor engagement
Have you noticed people are becoming increasingly harder to communicate with, yet easier to reach at the same time?
Supporters and stakeholders may want updates from your organisation, they may want to attend your events, and they may want to donate, but they want to do it their way at their convenience.
So you need to meet your donors where they are to maximise online engagement.
You can use the data stored in your CRM (see, we told you it was a cornerstone technology!) to track their preferences, what works for them and what doesn’t and tailor your communications to get the best results for your potential donor and your organisation.
3. Using donation data to drive your fundraising
Using your CRM or equivalent you can now see exactly when people donate, how they do it, how frequently, from what triggers and how much. You’ll know whether people want to receive information about your work, the format they want it in and what they are likely to do with it once this information arrives. With great data you can start analysing!
Armed with this knowledge you can segment and target your communications, personalise content to increase engagement and find both the hidden gems (potential major donor, anyone?) as well as any gaps in the way you’re capturing your data or any other ways to use this priceless info.
4. Using technology in event fundraising
With the assistance of your CRM system, you should have no issue:
- Emailing out invitations to your guests.
- Tracking responses.
- Storing registration data.
You can then leverage the pre-event data to do some research on your attendees. Learn more about who’s who and who knows whom. When the day or night of your big event rolls around, your board and your staff will already know with which prospects they should spend additional time.
How technology makes donating onsite easier is up to your organisation and the event in question, but you could employ many different solutions, including:
- Optimising online giving for mobile users. If someone wants to take out their phone and make a quick donation when an inspiring speech from your Artistic Director moves them, make sure that the attendee has the ability to do so.
- Pre-authorising participants for your auctions.
- Using credit card swipe devices. The card swipers are compatible with various devices from laptops to mobiles.
5. Bonus technologies to explore!
For those of you bright-eyed and eager fundraisers, here’s a couple of cutting-edge ideas to really get your imagination working.
6. Virtual Reality
Imagine being able to show your donors what their money can create by immersing them in the cause, the experience or the outcome.
Some not-for-profits are investing in VR campaigns already and using them as part of their fundraising campaign mix. Amnesty UK, UNICEF Canada, and a handful of international not for profits have created successful VR campaigns with great results and this is set to continue.
Oxfam Australia recently created an eight minute virtual reality film which tells the story of 11 year old Evelyn and her search for water in the drought-declared Turkana county in northern Kenya. Oxfam Australia head of public engagement Pam Anders explained that the film was an important investment to connect donors to the work Oxfam does and for securing future donors.
But keep in mind that, for now, VR is expensive so it may provide a better ROI down the track, when the technology is a little cheaper.
7. The Internet of Things
Want to know what ‘Internet of Things’ means (besides a buzzy catchphrase)? It’s the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity which means that these objects can collect and exchange data.
That means that soon social media and online content will be accessible everywhere – not just on a screen. It’s estimated that by the year 2020, over 26 billion things will be connected to the internet.
Just imagine listening to a story on the radio in your car and donating to a community art school’s fundraising campaign, while driving, through voice recognition. Or watching a news story about a new dance company in your city looking for support, and using your remote to research or donate via your smart TV.
The future is upon us and soon enough, you’ll need to plan your strategy around every internet-connected device!