When COVID first hit, not-for-profits were thrown into the deep end. The ntegrity team wanted to help, but social distancing meant we could no longer visit our clients or host events in-person.
So we moved quickly: we ran a near-daily broadcast on Instagram Live (the 10@10) where we brought the latest COVID-relevant strategy news for charities, held short how-to sessions from our digital specialists, and interviewed NFP marketers and fundraisers from around the world to get their perspective.
Nearly six months in, we are still broadcasting regularly, but with a few changes gleaned from our early experience. Here’s what we’ve learned from 115 days of interviewing guests from not-for-profits across the globe.
The initial focus for the 10@10 was speed: get as much insight and value out to our followers, and do it as quickly as possible.
This is why we had a daily broadcast. It meant we could get information out fast, create a new virtual touchpoint with our clients, and help provide a bit of a daily break with familiar faces for stressed-out fundraisers and marketers. It also meant we had to build agile internal content rhythms to support the speed of delivery.
This speedy approach was reflected in many of the not-for-profits we spoke with. Just as we were re-thinking our ways of working, these organisations had to quickly get on-par with digital.
For example, Jarrod Newton, GM of Digital at The Salvation Army said that quick decisions were pivotal to the organisation’s long-term success throughout the pandemic.
When COVID hit, the Salvos’ biggest campaign of the year was at risk. To protect their campaign and keep things moving forward, the organisation recruited digital partners, including ntegrity, to ensure they could pivot their Red Shield Appeal campaign online. This allowed Jarrod’s team to focus on quickly implementing agile internal processes to support the digital-first focus.
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This initial agility was important in getting up to scratch with digital. But now, as we move towards a new COVID-normal, organisations must think about how digital fits into their long-term strategy, not just their short-term adaptation.
As we move out of crisis mode, our new ways of working and practices become incorporated into business-as-usual. It’s time to look beyond the day-to-day and see where our new practices can be leveraged or adapted for long-term growth.
One example of this is a ‘digital assessment tool’ created by UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, used by their teams around the world to identify potential areas of growth. Prarthana Holburn, Global Digital Officer at UNHCR, said the development of the tool was fundamental to their ability to move quickly during the early weeks of the pandemic, and can now be used to sustain digital success in the future.
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The move to digital isn’t temporary, so consider long-term investments such as online content and user experience or donor research through empathy mapping. These strategies will help you thrive in the ‘new normal.’
For us, the 10@10 was great as a speedy tool during the initial phases of the pandemic, but now we’re evaluating how we can build this into our long-term plan.
The 10@10 gave us a great chance to look at which content is working, and which isn’t, as we were posting. This is what we call a ‘test-and-learn’ approach—and it’s a wonderful feature of a digital-first plan.
Having this iterative approach meant our decisions were guided by the live data, a key feature for many organisations during COVID, and informed by viewer feedback.
For Brian Tucker, a not-for-profit consultant in the USA, data had been key for many organisations across the Pacific.
His philosophy? “Being in the market early is better than being perfect.” That is, being able to deliver the best outcomes for digital often requires an initial leap of faith, and constant optimisations.
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This is something to take beyond the pandemic. Invest in analytics platforms, such as CRM, to understand your donors well and guide your digital decisions.
Our research in June found that 40% of not-for-profits were thriving, and 60% surviving in the midst of the pandemic. This is a testament to the resilience of this sector, and the generosity of Aussies during tough times.
Eva Mackinley, Marketing and Communications Manager at ygap said: “no one can prepare for a pandemic, but we can ensure we future-proof our organisations.”
In the middle of this turbulent period, we’ve seen events go online, face-to-face switch to SMS, and entire campaigns turn to digital.
The biggest thing we’ve learned from producing the 10@10 is the strength and resilience of this sector. When times are tough, not-for-profits are still able to do the good work they do.
The 10@10 was created to help not-for-profits through the toughest times of the pandemic. But as we step towards ‘COVID normal’, we want to help charities build long-term success. To follow along as we bring insights to NFPs, drop your email here or keep an eye out on our socials.
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