Charities and the World of Digital
As November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, Cirkle wanted to get involved and raise money for the charity, as well as increase awareness of the disease. Consequently, all employees bought a purple balloon which had individual numbers attached to it, with the hope that somebody may find a balloon and contact us. After great anticipation we released the balloons and they began their great adventure! Many of us used digital channels to spread the word with our hashtag #FlyawayCirkle. From this, it highlights to me how important digital platforms are to spread the word of fundraising activities.
2014 has been a revolutionary year with many charities using social media to expand awareness and in turn increase the number of donations. The most famous being the ‘no makeup selfie’ for Cancer Research and the ‘ice bucket challenge’ for ALS. Both these campaigns have demonstrated the power of digital communications for charities.
There are so many different charities that need funding, which makes it difficult to choose one in particular to support. It’s imperative for charities to cut through the noise, breaking the norms of storytelling and come up with innovative ideas. Organisations need to convince people that there are fun ways to be involved and committed to their charities. The use of social media provides charities with an effective channel of communication, allowing them to achieve this.
It’s easy for organisations to bombard you with information and graphic images with sad stories to increase contributions; I believe that smaller, powerful messaging is much more effective. This can be achieved through Twitter and Facebook, rather than the more traditional methods of communication including TV, radio or coverage in magazines. Not only does social media allow for smaller ‘bite size’ pieces of information to be conveyed, they’re also a great way to create dialogue with sufferers and supporters. Twitter’s real time capabilities allow charities to take part in live chats using their chosen hashtag, where followers can take part in ‘Q&A’ sessions with a representative from the charity.
I’ve noticed picture based social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, are not generally used by charities. If they don’t take advantage of such channels it makes it more challenging for organisations to convey their progress and update supporters. There are cynical people who question whether charities are using their money efficiently and I feel a visual channel is the perfect way to show them the continued success and what the charity is achieving.
Another simple but effect mechanism are mobile apps. Mobile apps are continuing to grow rapidly and their impact is more significant particularly as they now out-number desktops and laptops. An example of how a charity is using mobile apps is Cancer Research, who has developed an app that gives its user’s advice about cancer. This explains how to spot the early signs of the disease; therefore reducing the impact of late diagnosis. This is an excellent use of mobile apps and is an effective way of providing information and generating awareness of the disease. Mobile phones are important as they are compatible with apps and have the added advantage of enabling people to donate quickly and effectively, through a ‘just giving’ text which has seen a huge increase in levels of donations.
Budgetary constraints can be a restriction for many of the smaller charities, but I genuinely believe that digital marketing is a cost effective way to reach a wider audience. There are other ways of optimizing the benefits of digital marketing, on a smaller scale, including keeping your website up to date, interesting and user friendly. This also has a direct impact on search engine optimisation (SEO), ensuring a charity website is ranked highly on search engines, maximising their chance of being discovered by relevant key word searches.
In the future digital platforms will continue to evolve, increasing the opportunities for charities to excel online and interact with supporters. Digital marketing continues to grow rapidly, with people consuming more digital content on a daily basis. Further cost-cutting within charities, will encourage more and more innovative and unique campaigns, which will in-turn significantly, benefit charities – I can’t wait to what happens in 2015!