charity: water, a Not for Profit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, is leading the way in which charities raise funds digitally with more than 60 per cent of fundraising activities occurring online.

Paull Young as director of digital has led charity: water to being the first NFP with 1 million Twitter followers and raising $US33 million in 2012 with $US8 million coming from their online fundraising platform alone. charity:water is also an organisation that adopts the “100% model” by using 100 per cent of all funds collected to fund projects in the developing world.

While charity:water is a Not for Profit organisation, it has the culture of a start-up. They don’t do direct mail, they don’t issue media releases, they don’t buy advertisements.

Instead charity:water use the power of the web to share great content online, inspire individuals to fundraise and connect them with their impact. And it works.

charity: water just passed $100 million raised in seven short years, yet they’re setting their sights on even more aggressive goals, with a focus on online fundraising.

charity: water are embracing digital media as is the entire not for profit industry in the US.

Here are a few of the things charity: water and the top digital brands in the US are thinking about, which most Aussie Not for Profits need to consider in order to survive.

Digital is Your New Direct Mail

“The mail doesn’t even deliver in the US on Sundays anymore,” Young said.

“The Not for Profit industry is one of the only I’m aware of that is still highly dependant on direct-mail as a key marketing channel. These marketing dollars are going to go digital, and they’re never coming back.”

Salesforce.com found 67 per cent of marketing managers identified their number one priority for 2014 was to increase sales from digital marketing campaigns.

Mobile Has Won the War

Former Google CEO Eric Shmidt said: “The trend has been mobile was winning: now it has won.” The audience is shifting – rapidly – onto mobile.

“At charity:water in December we saw our desktop traffic from Facebook stay flat while mobile traffic tripled,” Young said.

“It’s not that people were sharing any less: they were sharing more. It’s just that the Facebook audience (like most of the web) is now mobile.  With the number of mobile devices set to exceed the global population in 2014 everything you do on desktop needs, not just to be available on mobile, but to be thought through as mobile first.”

Embrace the Nerds

“Every conversation I have with startups in the US comes back to hiring engineers,” Young said.

“We all need engineers, we all can’t find them. Can you name a non-profit in Australia that’s hiring significantly in tech? In order to innovate you need skilled people to make your digital ambitions real – and in the States we’re competing with talent with not only the likes of Twitter and Google, but startups that will offer recruits $11,000 wrapped in Bacon!”

Use Technology to Build Beautiful Things

The smartest web brands are becoming pathologically focused on design and building amazing products and customer experiences online. Boring, flat web pages just won’t cut it.

At Google, Founder Larry Page has ushered in a new era of focus on design, recently saying on an earnings call that “our goal is to design everything so it’s beautifully simple”.

Your customers are being shown beautiful things by commercial brands and they expect them from you,” Young said.

Read this article at ProBono Australia.