Marketers' Breakfast: Digital Fundraising

28th Feb 2018

Digital Fundraising Today

Achieving financial stability is the primary concern of over half of UK charity leaders. There are two ways to do this, cut services or increase donations. We all want charities to be able to choose the latter.

As the time we spend online increases, so too does the proportion of online donations. Unsurprisingly, charities are putting more effort into digital fundraising.

However, a recent report by Reason Digital reveals that UK charities missed out on £1.5 billion in donations last year after failing to deliver engaging experiences on their websites. Marketers can use Amigo to improve this crucial ‘last mile’ of their campaigns.

Donor Psychology

Academic findings on donor psychology present big opportunities to digital fundraisers. Our guests from NSPCC, Sam Thompson and James Barker, spoke about their experience of using Amigo to take advantage of these opportunities.

By considering the time-ask effect when building donation prompts into their website, NSPCC delivered a 70% uplift in donation rate.

We also discussed other ways to improve donation asks, such as “anchoring” them in previous donation information or aligning them with self-image. Ideas42 have an excellent white paper on how behavioural insights like this can be applied to charitable giving.

Securing Donors

Regular donors are precious to fundraisers. This has made it customary to  request regular donations at the first attempt. However, fundraisers are beginning to challenge this assumption.

At our breakfast, fundraisers suggested they should be spending more time cultivating long-term emotional engagement with supporters. Alistair Martin shared that this approach is being adopted at British Red Cross, where the fundraising team are increasingly involved in lead-generation activities. Once a lead is secured, the team invest heavily in sharing emotional content and key milestones prior to requesting a regular donation.

Increased connections

Many of our guests have been exploring new ways to give supporters a better idea of how their donations are spent. An impressive example comes from NHS Give Blood. Since 2016, donors are sent a text telling them when and where their blood is being used at a hospital.

Alice Housego (Digital Marketing Manager, Action for Children) noted that this level of transparency for donors is at the top of every fundraisers’ wish list, yet it is almost impossible for many charities. Digital fundraisers are forced to become more creative in connecting audiences with causes.

Oscar MacKenzie shared one of WaterAid’s technological solutions to the problem. In the #Untapped Campaign, WaterAid programmed a chatbot to inform potential donors about the life of a farmer called Sellu, a direct beneficiary of donations. By creating an emotional connection, #Untapped became one of WaterAid’s most successful targeted campaigns.

Nathalie Ormrod explained how Unicef seek to secure new donors by putting their efforts ‘front of mind’ when large humanitarian crises arise. Visitors to Unicef’s site interested in a particular crisis can donate directly to particular relief initiatives and are told of some of the individuals benefiting from Unicef’s work during the crisis.



Personalised content encourages visitors to donate to a specific campaign. However, insufficient technology often limits such personalisation to a single landing page. Fundraisers in fact want to personalise the entire onsite experience around a visitor’s initial motivation.

As Amigo can respond to where users come from and what users do, NSPCC will be trialling this initiative with us later this year. Watch this space.


New revenue streams

Over the past few years, more and more third-sector marketers have experimented with value-exchange products. According to Paul Amadi (Director of Fundraising, Diabetes UK) value-exchange campaigns tend to have a good conversion rate, while opening the door to long-term support.

Sam Thompson discussed how NSPCC integrate value-exchange products into larger campaigns. During the recent ‘PANTS’ campaign, which aimed to educate parents on how to speak to children to keep them safe from abuse, NSPCC used Amigo to cross-sell their ‘PANTS’ activity pack to engaged audiences. This enabled NSPCC to pull in hundreds of new financial supporters.

Alex Hill from Macmillan suggested charities could promote value-exchange products to emotionally-invested audiences, such as those who participate in fundraising challenges.

Charities can also exchange emotional value for support. Nathalie Ormrod talked us through Unicef’s Memory Lane project, which used personalisation techniques to invoke nostalgia about childhood and highlight the most impressive milestones achieved by Unicef’s work during your lifetime. This is another example that shows why Amigo believes in enabling marketers to personalise the last mile of their campaigns.

Creating a site that works for everyone

Like most marketers, charity marketers often have to cater for a variety of stakeholders. This can be a problem if they end up spreading their efforts too thinly in an attempt to satisfy every group.

Oscar MacKenzie mentioned that this was a predicament that faced a few years ago. As an international development charity, WaterAid were using their site to attract donations as well as to inform different groups (supporters, humanitarian specialists) about the WASH principles and the other principles that underpin their work on the ground.

“We had a large, burdensome site packed with lots of factual information about our service delivery. Looking into our site analytics and user research, we were able to realise that people weren’t looking to ascertain this level of information to prompt donation. For most of our supporters, the act of donating is much more about making an emotional connection – about being able to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable people.”



WaterAid re-engineered their site to make it a more emotional platform, using video to showcase the human stories of their beneficiaries. The current site is now far more effective at securing donations.

Other charities present at the breakfast, such as Coram and Shelter, don’t have the option of drastically streamlining their websites. For these charities, their sites are a key place for beneficiaries to access advice and services.

A number of our guests discussed how they’re planning to invest in personalisation efforts in 2018 to meet this challenge. This April, NSPCC will be trialling a campaign where users will be able to choose the experience they receive, based on their stated motivation for visiting the site. By providing visitors with a tailored experience, NSPCC will induce what is sometimes termed “reciprocity bias.” They will be able to serve more effective donation asks throughout the site. Personalisation will also benefit so-called ‘pure’ donors (people who have come to the site with a pre-existing motivation to donate) by steering them towards a frictionless donation journey.



You’ll find more content like this on our blog. If you’re interested in attending an Amigo marketers’ breakfast, we’d love to hear from you.

Further reading

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