Why Digital Nurturing is Important for Non-Profits

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One cannot ignore the fact that in the 21st century Going Digital  has become a buzzword with enormous untapped potential. Enhanced digital capabilities can contribute to non-profit engagement in a big way and significantly improve upon the traditional route. However, the idea of conducting operations around digital may seem overwhelming to most non-profits, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let us understand what “Going Digital” really means – for some it is technology, for others it is a new way of engaging with the target community and for some others it is simply another way of doing business using social media. Today we are always connected to the internet while working or socializing. Most people are equipped with smart devices and tools – currently over 7.2 billion active devices. On the personal front most of us have a digital presence, but can we claim the same for most non-profits?
According to the research conducted by Forrester, by 2018, social media will be one of the most important channels for non-profits. For a non-profit, going digital is the best way to understand a community’s need and expectations, thereby making a big difference in the way they choose to connect with the masses and  reach out to donors and volunteers – traditional marketing and fundraising efforts just aren’t enough to attract and retain support anymore.
Today non-profits have to interact with their supporters in a manner that is meaningful to them – using tools that cater to the more social, digital, mobile. Social Media platforms especially, allow non-profits the benefit of easy scalability without any additional cost. Non-profit organisation’s effort and achievements shared online in social media platforms by its supporters is a ‘word of mouth’ campaign, a digital advocacy that helps the brand to increase its online visibility. However, one should not indulge online without a strategy as it will not allow you to reap the benefits of the effort put in.
So what are the important points to keep in mind while going digital? Lets discuss.

Creating Impactful and Integrated Marketing Strategy –

Work on your existing plan- You don’t have to recreate the wheels of digital marketing strategy in general, the idea is to reframe the non-profit’s current marketing strategies such that they are better aligned to the organisation’s goals. Training your staff to be well versed in the use of various social media platforms  and digital tools is important as this invites easy direct interaction with future  volunteers & donors. Non-profits should also understand the importance of using Influencers—the members of their community that are speaking out and driving conversations related to their cause  
  1. Do not delve until you know you are ready- Before participating in any trending online service, one must figure out and fully comprehend the pros and cons. Social media giants like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Integral are popular mediums to stay connected and reach out to the target audience but you should be ready to accept the challenge of regular updates, and 24/7 availability on these platforms. Email is still the largest form for generating online revenue and building awareness. Online communication can be pushed out to a larger audience more effectively and quickly than direct mail campaigns.
  2. Target your donors- You should already know your target audience and where you can invite volunteers from. It is best to identify your least engaged segment and see their pattern in behavior, demographics, and interests. Make a separate team for your online marketing strategies and incorporate innovative ideas to maximise interaction with this segment and with the general public. However, getting in front of the right audience is only as effective as the content and experience you provide. So it is imperative to ensure that high quality, eyeball grabbing content is placed before your target audience, and that the experiences you share online through your digital strategies are engaging and interesting and tells your story in a compelling manner.
  3. Growth of your organization should be the driving force- Ultimately, the way you want your brand to grow and flourish should be the only objective to be online. Do not indulge in online marketing just because everyone else is doing so, that is just herd-mentality. You should understand the goals of your organization and utilise those social media platforms that can guarantee an excellent engagement for your supporters. Here it should be understood that 70% of a non-profit social traffic comes from mobile devices, hence it should be ensured that every brand/ marketing content used on such social media platforms is optimized for mobile devices.
  4. Online Fund raising and Digital Advocacy – Let’s admit, non-profits  rely heavily on their supporters and donations as they have limited resources and tight budgets. The kind of attention and visibility these social media portals offer is incomparable. It not only encourages direct connection with the donors but also gives a wider visibility and boosts their presence in their community – something which is of fundamental importance to the health and sustainability of any non-profit’s mission. Digital advocacy is an added bonus and several organizations have been able to successfully raise funds through social media.
Facebook likes, photo tagging, email forwarding, retweets, Google +1s, blogging, link sharing and Facebook comments are few examples of digital advocacy. According to a survey, 55% of online users who are supporting an NGO on social media portals are encouraged to take further action like donating and volunteering.
Some Key Findings- According to this survey, the non-profit sector successfully generated funds through digital marketing.  
  • Year 2013and 2014 witnessed 62.8 million volunteers in America, who came forward to support a cause through social media portals,
  • Charitable giving is expected to grow year by year, it was 4.8% in 2015, and it grew 4.9% in 2016.
  • Americans donated $335 billion to charity in the year 2014 while it will continue to grow in the coming years as well.
  • Over 92% of non profit organizations use content marketing to maximise their objectives online.
  • 46% of organizations do not have adequate funds to support technical training for their staff.
  • Almost 71% of organizations have admitted the shortage of skilled staff to monitor their online strategies.
The above findings showcase the reality of fundraising through online marketing. Although it is quite lucrative, it comes with many a challenge. Today, the need for non-profit services and solutions has exploded while budgets and fundraising avenues haven’t. Therefore, it is extremely important to engage a skilled team who would be responsible for online promotional activities and organising innovative fund raising programs. Non-profits will continue to see a dramatic shift and a bigger challenge in regard to human capital – lack of skilled and digitally trained manpower is a major bottleneck in non-profit operations.
In the final analysis, it remains a fact that for the success of any non-profit’s digital venture, instead of focusing attention on the number of hits or page-views it is always better to focus on conversions and  driving action for the cause.

How online fundraising works

Gofund is a website, through which you can start an online fundraising campaign. An online invitation through engaging info graphics could also be used on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Let’s study an example of the online fundraising campaign of Charitywater.org .
They launched an interesting online campaign and invited supporters to pledge their birthdays for offering help. Their plan was to sensitise people about the issue of clean water shortage and they focused their strategy on birthdays. People often have special attachment to their date of birth and are more inclined to demonstrate their philanthropic traits on their own birthday.  In another section, the campaign mentions the celebrities who have already pledged their birthdays for this cause.
“65% of Gen Y audience prefers to learn about non-profits via their websites. Social media followed at 55% “— Millennial Impact Report
Going digital is not an option today but a necessity if you want to leverage your marketing strategies and want the world to know about your  organization and your mission. You have to make sure that your digital channels work in juxtaposition with your present promotional strategies. It is also important to derive lessons from your own past experiences and from what has already been successful with your supporters – this will provide an insight into the strategies working best online. Inspire yourself with some research work and study the already successful online campaigns of other non-profits.
Digital inclusion will eventually grow your organization, so do not ignore its perspective and collaborative benefits. Better digital engagement translates to more successful campaigns, more loyal supporters and reduced cost of operation. Start with small campaigns and see what fits in best with your organization’s goals.