Six tips for integrating digital into fundraising

09 March 2020
Digital MediaStrategyDigital Integration
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Ella Pierce, Head of Digital Fundraising at Sightsavers, gives six tips in this blog that have worked for them in integrating digital into all areas of their fundraising and marketing.

When I joined Sightsavers back in 2013, I was the first digital fundraising specialist working here. My boss made a conscious decision to recruit me into the fundraising team, and my team of fantastic digital fundraisers remain firmly embedded in the fundraising directorate today. I believe it’s crucial that we remember we are fundraisers, but we specialise in digital. The channels, tactics, language and audience can all be different, but at the end of the day, it’s fundraising.

Being part of the fundraising team helps but it doesn’t automatically mean digital is beautifully integrated into the wider fundraising activity. I’m proud of the level of integration we’ve achieved. Here’s some of the key things we’ve done to achieve it.

1. Be part of the fundraising team. We actively take part in wider fundraising discussions, feeding into the development of direct mail packs, DRTV creative and wider plans. We do that using both our general fundraising knowledge and our digital expertise and insight – we continually share our learnings around what case studies and themes are working well digitally with the wider fundraising team.

2. Don’t use jargon. I have to constantly remind myself of this one as when you’re embedded in the wonderful world of PPC (Pay Per Click), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) – it’s very easy to forget that those terms really don’t mean anything outside of the digital marketing bubble. We don’t dumb it down but we do make an effort not to use terms people don’t understand. Or even worse, try and sound impressive with our fancy acronyms and terminology.

3. Spend time face to face. I work very closely with the Head of Direct Marketing and the Head of Online to ensure we know what’s going on in each others’ areas and can flag opportunities and issues early on. The same goes for the managers and the execs in our teams. In very practical terms, we hot-desk so the digital fundraising and Direct Marketing (DM) teams are all muddled in together. It’s amazing what you pick up just by sitting next to someone.

4. Plan. In the traditional direct marketing and fundraising world, activity has to be planned months in advance. We want to keep the benefits of agility in digital where it makes sense, but we also need to work to direct marketing timescales. If our DM team are planning an appeal 3 months in advance, it’s no good us rocking up 2 weeks before it launches with a load of great digital ideas. DM appeal concepts are shared with us before they are agreed. When the DM appeal is at first design and copy, the digital team kick off their side with a planning and brainstorming session that brings together key people from DM, digital fundraising, online and design, social media and content collection to sketch out the digital journey that will go alongside the DM appeal. That means by the time we get to second design and copy on the DM pack, everyone knows what the whole appeal looks like across all channels.

5. Show the value of digital. One of the great things about digital is it comes with lots of data. We can prove the value of digital fundraising by showing people the numbers. And we can even provide insight to use in other channels. Not sure which of those two images to use on your outer? We can run a test in Facebook and let you know in a couple of days which one people find more engaging.

6. Remember you all have the same goal. It really doesn’t matter whether those 50 donations that came in via the website in response to a DRTV ad get coded against DRTV or digital. What matters is that we got 50 donations to do more great work helping our cause. Yes, it’s really important to understand how and why they came in to so we can analyse and optimise how different activity and channels are performing. But we don’t squabble over who gets the credit, we just make sure we can show the value we add.

Ella Pierce
Ella Pierce
Head of Digital Fundraising at Sightsavers
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