How apps and tech are transforming the way charities raise money

Nathan Baranowski

Over the course of a decade, development in digital technology has been a catalyst for positive social change. From user-friendly mobile apps to contactless collection boxes, charities have realised the vast potential of modern technology in encouraging donations from the public.

Apps

Where the mass-adoption of mobile technology may have made us less inclined to approach charity representatives in the street, the fundraising sector is capitalising on cultural change by creating mobile apps that allow for donations to be made at the click of a button. Just log on to Facebook and it’s likely you’ll see someone promoting their JustGiving or GoFundMe campaign: with little to no fuss, friends can support causes close to their heart without leaving the house.

According to recent data, donations through websites, social media and apps now account for £26 in every £100 donated in the UK. Slowly but surely, digital technology is transforming the charity fundraising sector. If you’re yet to dip your toes into the water of charity apps but are eager to reap the benefits, we’ve compiled a few tips to get you started.

Tap into social media

If you’re seeking to attract donors in the digital sphere, social media is the best place to start – in fact, 71% of non-profit organisations agree that social media is effective for online fundraising, while 32% of global charities have a written social media strategy already in place. Beyond the obvious channels (Facebook and Twitter), these organisations are increasingly taking advantage of the growth in use of Snapchat and Instagram to ask for donations.

However, it’s important to note that those who have had success with these platforms don’t spam their followers. Instead, they listen to their supporters and shape their social media correspondence accordingly.

Unlike corporate entities, however, charities should be less concerned with “building a brand”; their focus should be entirely on educating and engaging their audience. While each will take a unique approach depending on the cause and the voice of the charity, communicating honestly with your supporters and showcasing the value of their contribution will help to build trust and in turn, encourage support.

Build a mobile-first strategy

With mobile-usage at an all-time high, charities without a mobile-optimised website or app have some catching up to do. Currently, only 25% of charities are accepting donations via their mobile apps – yet, findings from a survey conducted by Moneymailme revealed 72% of 18 to 25-year-olds would give to charity via a mobile app if they had the option to do so. Meanwhile, a further 62% say they would feel frustrated if they were forced to donate another way, such as with cash or via the telephone.

In 2017, The United Nations World Food Programme proved the value of fundraising apps with the development and launch of their ‘Share a Meal’ app to fight child hunger. By simply opening the app and tapping a button, users can donate 50 cents (35p), which is enough to provide a child with enough nutrition for one day. 

Of course, fundraising is just one of the many benefits of investing in apps - beyond donations, engaging apps can raise widespread awareness and advocacy. However, while apps may attract millennials, charity leaders should be mindful not to restrict their reach, ensuring that the option to donate and learn more is available and easily accessible across all channels.

Create a virtuous cycle

The problem that many non-profit organisations share is not getting people to download their app in the first place, but keeping people interested once a donation has been made. Unlike e-commerce apps that lure customers back in with the promise of discounts, charity apps are at risk of being deleted after one usage.

Simultaneously, many charities struggle to communicate the impact of financial contribution to their supporters: in turn, they struggle to build trust with their audience due to the lack of clarity about where their money goes.

Fortunately, the development of an engaging mobile app can assist in resolving both of these challenges at once. The ‘My Oxfam app’ is a great example of this: by providing users with a constant stream of information about the people that have and continue to benefit from donations, Oxfam give users a reason to return. Their app further allows users to control the amount they donate with a simple swipe and alerts them to current crises through notifications, encouraging them to support those in need at that particular moment.

While the third sector has historically been slow to adopt new technologies, the opportunities created by the growth of mobile and social media usage are too great to ignore.

If you’re not sure how you as a charity can get started with apps, contact us today, and we will help you.

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