The shift from face-to-face to digital fundraising is continuing to gain momentum, as over 15 million Australians are thrown into rolling pandemic-induced lockdowns.

In November 2020, F&P reported that Australian charities are increasingly reviewing their fundraising strategies to ensure they have a meaningful digital presence and campaigns that convert interested parties into regular long-term givers.

Fansdonate, a specialist digital fundraising agency based in Brisbane that has been at the forefront of this continuing trend, has seen its charitable client list grow by 350% since the pandemic began.

Fansdonate’s Founder and CEO Stephen Thirgood said charities’ appetite to move to digital has increased further in 2021 as the long-term realities of the pandemic hit home to businesses across the country.

“We knew that this shift to digital fundraising would be permanent, and charities have grasped that the future of their campaigns needs to be based around how consumers receive information and how they make decisions.

“We represent four of Australia’s five most trusted charities and have added significantly to our Australia and NZ client list in 2021, including both big charities and smaller fundraising organisations who – like us – recognise the future is digital,” Stephen said.

In fact, according to McNair yellowSquares research published in F&P in June 2021, Fansdonate currently fundraises with 15 of Australia’s 20 best-known charities – illustrating that Australia’s most-experienced fundraising executives recognise the value of Fansdonate’s digital philosophy.

One example is Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (MSF) – also known as Doctors Without Borders – who partnered with Fansdonate in March 2020 as COVID-19 became front of mind in Australia.

MSF Australia’s Regular Giving Coordinator, Nick O’Halloran, said: “During the pandemic we had a need to increase our digital fundraising presence.

“Fansdonate offered extensive experience in this space and were a really good fit as an extension of our fundraising team. 16 months later the digital campaigns we’ve run together have generated 700 regular MSF givers and have assisted us to explain what we do, direct to Australians’ mobile handsets.

“The ongoing digital conversation we’re having with givers and potential MSF givers is deep and rich. With the latest COVID outbreaks placing 15 million Australians into fresh lockdowns, this digital strategy is a primary focus for us moving forward.”

“Since beginning our partnership in mid-2020, Fansdonate has assisted us to generate over 650 regular givers for Royal Far West.”

Royal Far West was an early adopter of the Fansdonate philosophy and has been a client of Fansdonate since July 2020.

Royal Far West is Australia’s only national charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of country children. With a rich history of innovation, dedication, and determination, Royal Far West supports children’s developmental, mental health, and behavioural health at our Centre for Country Kids in Manly, via telehealth and in communities.

Royal Far West’s Individual Giving Manager, Leanne Riches, explained that over the past 14 months, the charity and Fansdonate have really focussed on optimising the donor journey for users, from social media advertisement through to becoming regular monthly supporters

“The digital donor journey has been critical to the success of our campaign. Despite having a strong supporter base in rural communities, Royal Far West is still relatively unknown in metro areas. The lack of developmental health services in the country doesn’t get much airtime in the media, so it’s absolutely vital that we connect audiences with the issue in a creative and engaging way early on.

“Since beginning our partnership in mid-2020, Fansdonate has assisted us to generate over 650 regular givers for Royal Far West. The conversion from lead to regular giver has been fantastic, but the real value is in the quality we are seeing. At 12 months, the retention of donors is around 4% better than our next best performing campaign, and month-on-month, the decline rate is consistently amongst the lowest of all acquisition channels.

The engaging and emotive social media ads have really helped to cut through to our target audience. The associated communications, including email and further digital presence have helped deliver really great conversion and retention through both online and phone channels.

“Knowing that the digital donor is thoroughly immersed in our charity and with us as a regular financial contributor for the long term, has given added confidence to include this campaign as a stable source for our ambitious growth plans over the coming year,” Leanne said.

Fansdonate continues to take its digital thinking forward – and according to Steve Thirgood ‘Stewardship’ will be the turnkey digital fundraising solution of the future.

“During our initial digital interactions with any prospective donor both parties are getting to know one another and building trust and a knowledge of the key issues,” Stephen explains.

“Once an individual makes a commitment to one of our charities (following that initial digital dialogue), our charitable client will send the donor a welcome pack to ensure the donor has all the relevant educational information and feels valued by the charity as a regular contributor to the cause.

“Where we will place great emphasis with our clients in the future is around the ‘stewardship’ of the digital relationship after the third month.

“Our digital engagement will lift substantially and our relationship with the individual will deepen to continue to ensure the individual is fully committed to a long-term financial relationship with our charitable partner.

“We want to work harder than ever before through digital to establish that the donor understands that they are a key part of the charity’s family of important stakeholders – and that ideas the donor may have around future services and fundraising initiatives are being considered by the charity as they would be in any boardroom.”

Fansdonate already knows that when we engage effectively, these everyday Australians become long-term donors to a charity for at least three to four years. Our future ‘Stewardship Programs’ will further deepen the donor ties and commitment to our charity-partners.”

Stephen believes it is now clear the global pandemic has accelerated a long-term shift to digital fundraising in Australasia.

“Lockdowns – particularly in Victoria and New South Wales – and ongoing social distancing regulations have made digital more important than ever.

“Charities recognise that digital needs to be central to their future fundraising strategy and the future ‘Stewardship’ of those interactions is a service Fansdonate intends to prioritise over the coming twelve months.

“Our current excellent results are plain to see and we believe we can do even better for our clients by taking the donor-digital relationship to the next level,” Stephen added.

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