What are the digital trends that charities should be aware of and how is digital changing the way charity supporters behave? Beth Kanter and Paul de Gregorio share cutting edge insights into what the future of the charity sector could look like and how you can start planning for this- now.
We’re obsessed with our mobile phones. Everywhere I look there is another statistic reinforcing that mobile is the primary device people use to access the internet. This shift towards mobile should mean much more than ensuring your websites and emails look amazing on a mobile phone. But you have to get these basics right. If a similar organisation to yours offers a better mobile experience your potential supporters will find them. So invest in making this happen across your entire digital presence.
ACCESS TO THE INTERNET VIA MOBILE IS SHRINKING THE WORLD
A stat that recently grabbed my attention is that by 2017 73% of the world population will have a smartphone. Or in other words close to 75% of the world population will be walking around with the internet in their pocket.
This is transformational for the charity sector. It means individuals can connect with anyone or any organisation from anywhere in the world. It means our relationship with our phone will become increasingly important to us as we use its features to navigate our lives - with access to the internet on the move a necessity not a luxury.
So it’s now possible for anyone to support any cause in any country in just a few clicks on their mobile phone. Fundraising drives from mobile platforms like Instagram for the amazing Humans of New York articulate this very well.
Mobile is eating the world - Ben Evans
WE'RE HAPPY TO SHARE MORE, BUT WANT SOMETHING IN RETURN
Our attitude to privacy will change even more, as sharing our location, personal information and payment details drive more convenience in our lives. Think about Uber, Deliveroo, CityMapper and other apps that use personal information to deliver a personalised service. Charities should think about how this applies to them and be very clear with supporters how data they share will be used.
In 1994, I attended a “Future of the Internet” Conference. Back then less than 1% of the world had an internet connection. They predicted that with faster bandwidth, the Internet would support video streaming and e-commerce. As a result, we would transact our lives online, especially banking, purchasing and watching movies, even make donations online to charities …
We found it hard to believe, but here we are 20 years later – and it is all true.
GEN Z DONORS
GEN Z was born between 1995 to 2009 which means they’re between 6-20 years old year old today. They are the first generation to be born into a digital life, and what some call an extreme version of Millennials. And there are lots of them. The current (2013) population of Gen Z is estimated to be a little more than 1.9 billion, or 27 percent of the global population. They are digitally savvy, care about social change causes, and they want to do fundraising their own way. Take for example, Braeden Quinn Mannering who is passionate about stopping food insecurity for families in need. He created his own nonprofit and program called “Brae’s Brown Bags” to help fight against hunger, probably making him one of the youngest nonprofit CEOs and founders.
CROWD FUNDING PLATFORMS
To attract and cultivate these future donors, it is important for your charity to have a presence and experiment with crowdfunding campaigns and platforms. This is where social media marries online fundraising to encourage young people to fundraise from their networks to support your charity or cause.
CONNECTION MEANS CONTENT
Having the internet in our pocket means we’ve become a content hungry species. There are various stats on how often we look at our phones in a day - I’ve seen 120 - 150 times a day stated in various studies. We’re looking for content - for stuff that will entertain, inform or distract us. So content strategies need to match your audience needs, which means more content: ‘thumb stopping’, bite sized, video and shareable content.
A fantastic example of this is how MSF use social platforms in the field to report back on their work. They have a WhatsApp group and a brilliant Twitter feed focused on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean that updates directly from the boats that are rescuing people from the sea.
The inspiring MSF Sea Twitter feed
A FOCUS ON MOBILE PAYMENTS WILL IMPROVE YOUR FUNDRAISING
Mobile payments need to be frictionless: make it as easy as possible to make a donation on the small screen or you will lose revenue. There has been lots of hype about mobile payments and I think we’re on the verge of huge adoption of services like Android and Apple pay. Very soon mobile payment and purchasing will be mainstream (if not already) so charities need to offer the payment options their audiences want and use or risk being left behind.
WE DON'T TALK ANYMORE...
We love to use our phones to message. The rise of instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger is huge. In 2014, according to a Deloitte and Ofcom study, people in the UK sent 3bn instant messages compared to 150bn SMS messages. Anything this important to our audience should be important to us - so charities must think about how they integrate these messaging platforms into their fundraising and communications plans. There are some great examples of how charities are using WhatsApp here.
He’s established a nonprofit, been invited to the White House, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for hunger, and tirelessly promotes his cause – all at age 10! Look out world!
While the kids of Gen Z want to work with charities that offer their support , they seek a light touch and want lots of flexibility in how they can help raise money. Unicef USA , for example, offers a lot of different ways to young people to engage and create their own campaigns to support UNICEF, from online crowdfunding to reaching to high school clubs. The key lesson from Unicef USA is to think about how to adapt your fundraisers for GEN Z, not the other away around.
LIVE VIDEOS VIA MOBILE
The last few years, we saw exceptional growth for video on Facebook. At the end of 2014 the site hosted approximately one billion video views per day, growing to over eight billion by the end of 2015. The first step is to identify “moments of impact” to live stream. For example, Best Friends Animal Society does this regularly, and more recently they live streamed a new arrive to their horse rescue. The description links over to a CTA to donate, volunteer, or adopt a horse.
ere’s a few simple steps to pick up on this digital trend in 2017.
Messenger as we know is Facebook’s messaging app. It enables businesses to deliver automated customer support, guidance, content, and interactive experiences through “chatbots.”
Jewellery brand Lokai and nonprofit Charity: Water are using bots to raise awareness and visualize the challenges people in rural areas of the world face in getting clean drinking water. Walk with Yeshi" takes Facebook users through a two-and-a-half-hour experience with a woman named Yeshi who lives in rural Ethiopia and spends two-and-a-half hours each day walking to find water. Once someone starts chatting with the bot, Yeshi sends out images, videos, audio clips and maps. For example, users can follow a digital map of her route across the country from Facebook Messenger. It provides a method for donors to feel empathy for the people that charity:water is trying to support
VIRTUAL & AUGMENTED REALITY
Augumented Reality is a technology that superimposes a digital image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. A simple example is how the movie Mary Poppins super-imposed animated cartoon characters with real life people. This year, Augmented Reality went mainstream with the release of Pokomon Go.
Several nonprofits capitalized on the app’s popularity with some clever location-based marketing. For example, a nonprofit animal rescue that also was lucky to have a PokeStop, lured players into the shelter to volunteer to walk the dogs while catching Pokemon.
Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and hardware viewers presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Experienced through: sight and sound. A few nonprofits are experimenting with the technology. Unicef, using a special camera, smartphone app, and cardboard viewer, is able to donors into the field to experience what their programs first hand. The value is that has increased fundraising conversations because donors feel more connected and closer to the work in the field.
These two technologies are the next big thing. And while you don’t need to run out and be the earliest of adopters, it’s not a fad. Virtual reality is here to stay and will become more common and available at lower cost. The power of virtual reality is bold, we will see more and more nonprofits embrace in the future.
How will your charity begin to experiment and adapt these future digital trends into your strategy over the next year?