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CHAPTER 6

Marie Curie have recently been through the digital transformation process. As part of this, they reviewed their digital fundraising. We caught up with Steve Armstrong, their Head of Digital, to find out how they went about it.

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DIGITAL FUNDRAISING

It’s the big question- how can you tap into digital to fundraise and generate income? Marie Curie’s Head of Digital Steve Armstrong shares how digital has helped them look at the supporter journey through another lens and what he has learned along the way.

FUNDRAISING THROUGH DIGITAL
 - MARIE CURIE'S JOURNEY

TOP TIPS

  • If you are developing a digital strategy, use it as an opportunity to think through your digital fundraising proposition and donor journeys.
  • Understand what happens when donors come to your site, and what would motivate them to give 
  • If you have a smaller budget, you’ll need to prioritise. Even if you can only afford to do one thing, do it really well.

FURTHER READING

BY STEVE ARMSTRONG - MARIE CURIE
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We also worked hard on optimising the online journey on the site- more about that later.

Thirdly, we worked on our mass participation events products. We looked at the entire customer journey both on and offline to understand how people signed up, whether for a run, cycle or trek, and created automated, personalised supporter journeys for every event, specific to the event you signed up for. The journey takes you through from the moment you sign up to a thank you post event. Although this was quite a sophisticated piece of work, it has made aftercare much more efficient, with some colleagues saying that it’s saved them at least 20% of their time. We’ve recently completed a piece of customer experience mapping to understand what ‘would be’ eventers want from website content before they sign up, identified the gaps and are in the process of improving this entire section of the site to improve the experience.

OUR ONLINE FUNDRAISING PROPOSITION POST DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

As you may know, we’ve recently been through digital transformation at Marie Curie, and as part of that, we took the opportunity to think through our online fundraising proposition.

Digital is a key enabler in our fundraising activities. There are three areas that we have travelled a long way with. The first is managing our fundraising community proposition, e.g. street collecting. Before the transformation programme, it was very focused on paper and telephone calls, and there was a lot of management and logistics. One of the main deliverables post transformation was a campaign management tool, which aimed to do 3 things: 

  1. To enable people to sign up to a collection online
  2. To create a back end that enabled our community fundraising team to manage all of those collections
  3. To open up collection points online, to manage existing ones, and show how each patch was performing and to log how much money was raised. 

The tool also automated supporter communications once they had signed up, which was a step change for Marie Curie. Lots of our community groups were not used to working in that way. But it’s been embedded now for 2-3 years, uptake and usage are high internally, and it’s embedded in the fabric of the organisation. We raise £6 million per year through our Great Daffodil Appeal and our campaign management tool is a key component of that.

MAKING THE ASK

Here at Marie Curie we’ve been thinking about how we make the ask and how we can make it in the most effective way.

Our donor base is mainly older people so for that reason we complement offline appeal campaigns with emails and other digital channels. At this stage we don’t use digital to drive mass individual giving campaigns. However digital is a good way of engaging people once they have flagged they are interested in something or where the journey is about mass participation.

There may be opportunities in the future to use digital to access new revenue streams via individual giving, such as  building relationships with younger audiences who have an affinity with Marie Curie. Interestingly, the average value of online donations for us is significantly higher than offline donations. 

Digital Fundraising
Great Daffodil Appeal
Marie Curie Events Management

OUR AFTERCARE PROGRAMME FOR DONORS ACQUIRED VIA DIGITAL

For those donors who opt in we have a softer eCRM programme, covering both on and offline channels. This programme isn’t exclusive to online donors. We might invest in a specific aftercare programme for online donors if acquisition levels increase or if we develop an online only individual giving product,

HOW WE USE ONLINE FUNDRAISING PLATFORMS SUCH AS JUSTGIVING

JustGiving are absolutely key and we have a close relationship with them especially when it comes to mass participation events. As part of the sign up journey for supporters we have created an option to set up a JustGiving page for them.

Marie Curie - Just Giving

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN DONORS COME TO OUR SITE

When donors come to our site we’ve worked hard to put ourselves in their shoes and think about what motivates them to give.

Donors do come directly to our site; we don’t have a bespoke online donor acquisition programme. They normally come when they have a trigger event as I said before. A sizeable chunk use the site to pay in money they have raised on Marie Curie’s behalf. We also use social media to drive brand awareness, particularly around key campaign times such as the Great Daffodil Appeal and found that if we can use social content (particularly video) to build an audience we have lots of success re-marketing to this audience to drive fundraising campaigns. What makes people give is the cause, the storytelling on the site, emotive content and contextualising the campaign.

One of the things we wanted to get right on the site was making the user journey clearer and more obvious. Websites fulfil so many different areas for a charity. Some people come to the Marie Curie site not to donate but to find information, or refer a nurse, for example. We need to meet those needs as much as fundraising. So the fundraising journey must be clear architecturally and visually and that’s why it needed more personalisation. There’s lots more we need to do here from getting the on to off line journey right through to optimising the content and functional elements like payment forms and this will be a key initiative in 2017.

We engaged an analytics agency to take user personas and apply analytics to them using Google demographic data. So now we know what groups of content each persona is consuming. That will help us tighten up the site more and make the user journeys clearer.

HOW ARE WE EXPLORING NEW DIGITAL FUNDRAISING INNOVATION?

I know that many charities are talking about the potential contactless giving, Easyfundraising, Apple Pay and Donations at ATM, and over at Marie Curie we’re discussing them too.

We’re always on the look out for new innovations, so we’re trialling Barclays contactless donations for the Great Daffodil Appeal 2017. Our aim is always to reduce the friction when it comes to online payments so we work with lots of online partners and believe that Mobile will be a crucial enabler in the near future.   Innovation is also good for PR and it’s great to be first to try new things. 

WHAT ROLE DOES MOBILE TEXT TO DONATE PLAY?

We’re not a campaigning organisation so our use of text is focused on fundraising. One off donation are fairly modest via mobile, although we do absolutely offer it as another way to give.

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WHAT CAN CHARITIES WITH LIMITED FUNDS CAN DO PERSONALISATION?

Whilst I advocate personalisation and we have adopted it at Marie Curie, I’m a great believer that you can reap some of the benefits even with a smaller budget. 

My top tip is: do less, but do it really well

 If you haven’t got much, do one thing and follow through. Think through what the objectives are, who your audience is, what the digital opportunity is, structure your thinking, and do the discovery work. Use insight to drive decisions. Take a step back and look at what the insights are telling you. Who is our audience and how are they using these channels.  What do they want from your brand emotionally and functionally. 

Can you put answers to these questions?

A good start is to run a Experience Mapping exercise.  Put yourself in the shoes of a potential supporter.  

  • What are their behaviours on and offline?  
  • What do they want emotionally from you?  
  • Look at competitors, what are they doing?  
  • Follow a supporter through their journey on your site.  
  • Where are their needs being met, where aren’t they? 
  • Where can digital help meet this needs? 

If nothing else get your Google Analytics in order (you can set this up for free). I also recommend tools such as What Users Do, or Qualaroo which records site engagement. There are plenty of cheap ways of getting insight if you know where to look. 

If nothing else, you can map personas and user journeys just using the knowledge you have amongst your staff team .

THE ONE THING EVERY CHARITY SHOULD DO TO IMPROVE DIGITAL FUNDRAISING

If you haven’t got much money, take one thing, test, learn and optimise. See the results, and build on that. I’ve always been inspired by Google’s approach: put 70% into stuff you know works, 20% into a fairly safe test, and 10% in pure innovation. Use it to open up and explore new opportunities. The charity sector does such innovative work but can be conservative about investment. Digital teams can play an important role in helping their charities innovate and learn new things.

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Steve Armstrong
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