Spending too much on digital? That’s what the direct marketing gestapo want you to believe!  Reality: charities barely spend enough. Most large Australian charities spend less than 10 per cent of their marketing budget on digital.

Digital fundraisers usually have to fight tooth and nail to secure funds when fighting against more expensive – and dare we say it – less measurable – traditional channels.

And yet the fastest growing charities in the world, like charity: water, are digital charities.

Australia Post’s report is indicative of the biggest problem we see charities face: old school marketing versus new school thinking. The report is intentionally trying to isolate the most useful channels, however what is lacking is the understanding that donors give, stay, and give again because of multi-channel experiences.

Think about a charity you love to support. If asked about why you support them, your answer is likely to be a range of experiences you had, rather than “I received a piece of mail”. These touchpoints – television, websites, direct mail, are important as each other – and are supported by each other.

There were also digital channels missing from the survey. For example, social media advertising appears, however social media itself, arguably the most popular digital channel for conscious brand engagement, does not. Search engine marketing does not appear on the list at all. Yet how many of us buy something post clicking on a link on a Google results page?

Here are five things to keep in mind when considering your digital investment:

  1. Your donors are digital. Digital purchasing behaviour is on the rise as is the uptake of mobile and social technologies. Even if donors are hearing about you from other channels, it’s likely they will give online.

  2. Digital is more measurable than traditional marketing and communications – so you can monitor, optimise and scale your limited donor-provided funds cost-effectively.

  3. Digital is for acquisition and retention. If you are considering investment in digital, do not look at cost per acquisition of a single channel in isolation. Consider lifetime donor value.

  4. If donor acquisition is your priority: make sure your website converts, make your emails compelling, invest in online advertising then consider social media. And make sure your other activities come with a digital call to action. Remember that digital is an important donor response channel for other traditional marketing activities.

  5. Digital is beyond an ad on the right side of your Facebook news feed, an email newsletter, or a website donation page. It is the ability to fuse technology with your internal resources – people and content – to create valuable and engaging experiences for donors.

Earlier this year, ntegrity hosted Future of Fundraising with attendees from Australia’s most established charities and fast moving new beginners. Of the attendees, the fastest growing charities were nimble, digitally focused and ironically – couldn’t afford traditional advertising methods.

As Forrester research states “know your customers, your products, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital”. Or to put it more simply: “the future of business is digital”. That’s why the most successful charities are digital centric.

We live in a world where human experiences are increasingly digital experiences. Charities need to embrace a digital-centric approach to ALL their activities, or they risk getting left behind by their donors.

Read this article at Probono Australia