Digital: Practical skills, digital transformation, the latest tools and more

: James Gadsby-Peet

James Gadsy-Peet gives the low-down on the sessions taking place in the digital track at this year's Fundraising Convention.

We all know Fundraising Convention can be an overwhelming beast of a conference. Three full days of the latest thinking from across the sector, fuelled by coffee and recycled air. The digital stream is no exception to this. To help you get a handle on what to expect, here are the main themes we’re hoping to tackle through the sessions.

The big picture

In any discipline it’s important to keep an eye on the wider themes that are developing. Perhaps particularly so in a newer area such as digital. As such, we’ve got four sessions which will get your head out of the day to day and think about what’s coming up next for you and your organisation.

  1. The M+R benchmarks are the gold standard for data about digital in the US non-profit industry. Covering everything from online giving trends to email performance to website engagement, they provide perspective and understanding where often there is none. Their session will help us dissect tried-and-trusted tactics under a microscope to see what makes them tick, and ensure our telescopes are pointed in the right direction to spy the approaching developments that are already impacting our work.
  2. The American Civil Liberty Union’s story is an inspiring mix of cutting edge activism with old fashioned civic responsibility. They will talk us through what being at the heart of this incredible journey has been like through the most turbulent times in generations. 
  3. The Movember Foundation is one of the most forward-thinking charities, harnessing digital innovation to engage and support six million fundraisers worldwide, as well as deliver health programs direct to the men who need them most. As a global charity partner of Facebook Social Good, it works with the social platform to develop new ways for participants to raise funds and awareness, and it is always experimenting with new channels, mechanics and online audience groups to drive greater engagement and action. They will share their latest innovations to engage the supporters that are changing the face of men's health.
  4. Having worked at the BHF for years, Dani Hughes recently spent 12 months working at fitness startup FRAME. Now after returning to the BHF, she'll talk us through what we can all learn from the fast paced, rapidly changing startup environment.

Genuine digital collaboration

Lots of people think digital fundraising and digital transformation is all about tools and technology. In reality it’s about people, skills and relationships. As such we’ve got two sessions which look at the successes of organisations who have taken a more human-centric approach to digital. 

  1. As Chief Information Officer of World Vision, Martin Francis Campbell has the job of taking World Vision UK, part of the world’s largest Children’s charity on its own digital transformation. Based on his experience in with high-growth startups in financial technology Martin has adopted a new model for digital transformation and is already helping World Vision make the transition by leading a new “Digital Collective".
  2. The best modern charity experiences make the most of campaigning, brand, awareness days and volunteering amongst others, to provide experiences that put the supporter at the centre of it all. In a mammoth session including four forward thinking charities and their partners, you'll hear how they've managed just that. 

Real life digital transformation

Driving forward the digital capabilities of a particular organisation is completely different to any other. For one thing, the best approach completely depends on the culture, size and scale of the charity. As such, we have invited two organisations to speak who know what practical change looks like on the ground, when you haven’t got millions to spend on change programmes. 

  1. Rhythmix have been on a remarkable fundraising journey over the last 5 years - a 10 fold increase in Trust and Foundation support, zero to 23% in un-ringfenced funding and a reliance on lottery going down by two thirds. They'll talk us through 5 simple digital tools their fundraising team uses to increase efficiency along with a few they abandoned.
  2. Church Urban Fund, similar to many charities of their size, have recently embarked on their first digital fundraising strategy. One year on, they will share their 10 “I wish I had known that" practical learnings.

Practical skills you can use tomorrow

It’s easy to get caught up with the bigger picture, strategic stuff when it comes to digital. At the heart of any conversation needs to be the specific, practical opportunities that we have at our disposal. As such, we’ve got a set of sessions which will help you drive forward your own digital fundraising capabilities.

  1. Through practical examples like the redesign of WWF Norway’s website, Beate Sørum will look through the eyes of your donors to learn how to inspire action on your website. You’ll learn how to avoid common pitfalls and bring #donorlove into your web design.
  2. Julie Roberts from Pancreatic Cancer UK, will deep dive into the exact steps they took to launch and optimize their break-through facebook advertising campaign. This activity saw them treble the size of their organisation’s database in 6 weeks at a cost per lead of 30p.
  3. Losing access to a computer network, having funds stolen or suffering a data breach through a cyber attack can be devastating to a charity. Berkely Insurance Group’s session will identify the main cyber threats and how to build cyber resilience. 
  4. The RSPCA will take you through their approach to legitimate interest and consent in their GDPR strategy. They will explain how Fastmap research informed their evidence-based legitimate interest risk assessment that ensures compliance, reduces risk and leads to improved relationships with contacts. They will also look into privacy by design and how organisations can optimise their privacy policy to achieve targeted transparency. 
  5. Nikki Bell and Saleem Tejani will showcase studies from both UK and international charities that are using video to support a variety of fundraising propositions. Including how they are recruiting regular giving donors at volume using Facebook video. 

Latest tools that actually work 

Looking at the latest trends for the sake of it is a waste of everyone’s time. As such, we’ve pulled together a collection of tools which have proven their value, but aren’t fully adopted by charities as a whole. 

  1. Voice technology is fundamentally changing the way we interact with our devices, helping us to save time and get things done quickly. But what are the opportunities for fundraising? The NSPCC will explore the possibilities for using voice as an exciting new fundraising channel as well as share the results of voice fundraising in practice.
  2. Greenpeace were the first organisation to use F2F in the 1990’s and are now the first organisation to bring dialogue into the digital space. They’ll help us learn how they have developed the use of Messaging Applications to engage with supporter’s in a bespoke, multi-faceted and scalable way with a focus on engagement metrics as well as commercial KPIs.
  3. This is a great time for forward-thinking fundraisers to consider how AR and VR could help them better connect with donors through opportunities to build empathy and provoke behaviour change. While the biggest investment in AR and VR is coming from the games, military and adult entertainment industries, it’s in arts and culture that’s generating some of the most interesting innovation. Jo Wolfe will share new case studies from the world of digital art — alongside the latest research — helping you to understand this emerging medium.

James Gadsby-Peet is Director of Digital at William Joseph, and is one of the board members who designed the digital track.

View the full Fundraising Convention programme here.

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