Success post-pandemic: How to give your supporters more creative freedom

The global pandemic has provided many organisations with time to pause and reflect. Statements like “it’s the way we’ve always done things” have never been less relevant than the present day and we recognise this will fill some people with excitement and others with terror.

The fundraising event calendar has been whipped out and reliable charity supporters have been preoccupied with their own pandemic-induced challenges. The impact is shocking, with 50-70% reductions of income compounded by massively reduced resources to fight the fight (furloughed staff) in order to protect income. But like the pheonix from the ashes, we're firm believers that hidden within this challenging time is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to reinvent, reimagine and emerge stronger.

To take advantage of this rare opportunity for change, charities must pair creativity with technology that truly serves purpose. When it comes to ways of working, it’s crucial charities acknowledge how (or if) their culture and platforms encourage a creative and adaptive approach to fundraising ideation and execution.

The first step is to establish why you do what you do and make it crystal clear. The next step – as Studio Republic and Funraisin highlight in a new whitepaper on the future of fundraising – is to identify if taking a ‘start-up mentality’ may be necessary (to test, learn and achieve faster results).
Charity leaders should see the remainder of 2020 as a chance to better empower their team to make decisions, without serious repercussions if things don’t work out straight away. Fail fast and grow.

While initially frightening, there is great power and knowledge to be gained from the freedom to rapidly problem-solve, test (sometimes fail) and learn. Organisations need to balance long-term planning with launching ideas to market quickly, when the momentum is there to be leveraged. We believe that 99% of giving content should be user generated. Most charities already know and accept that no one will tell their story better than fundraisers themselves. Compared to 10 years ago, think about the variety of ways consumers are creating and watching content now – TikTok, Youtube, Snapchat, Whatsapp and Twitch.

In 2010, the fundraising page was the single connector between charities and supporters; 20 years ago it was a piece of paper and talking to your friends, now with the uprising of consumer power and creative freedom – fuelled by technology – we have hundreds of digital connections and thousands of integrations connecting the fundraiser to the charity and their network. What is it going to be like five years from now?

That’s why we need to continue to give more control to supporters across these platforms as well as having great technology that makes it easy to pull all of this beautiful content into the charity domain (and connect this to a rolled up movement and impact). Because at the core it’s still a single cause trying to solve something in a very congested, complicated and fast- moving space.

Being creative isn’t just about what charities can think- up but about empowering supporter communities to be creative on our behalf.
Imagine millions of fundraisers needing to share five to 10 updates each about their journey, whether compressed over hours on a livestream or 12 months of training for a marathon. Giving platforms should be actively catering for the variations of content fundraisers want to create, rather than dictating it to them. Platforms must also ensure that content can be shared across media channels easily in order to reach and engage the largest network possible, converting content into the donations and funds required to make the impact.

The impact must grow within an existing network and evolve from there. The experience of giving is special and valuable in every sense. Charity leaders who have been in game for many years should ensure they remember this. The financial exchange is unlike any other and not just because of the outcome each donation contributes towards creating. The act of giving is fundamentally social – highly emotional and personal – giving people the ability to make connections in a completely unique way.

People, communities and organisations have a desire to share content because the act of giving always pertains to a unique story and sharing that story helps people to create meaningful connections related to their cause. Stories might be heart-breaking, sensitive, sometimes they’re just fun or timely but in one way or another they help people to unite and feel part of something.

The role of charities isn’t to guess or dictate what people’s responses should be. Great charity campaigns are creatively & technologically- engaging conduits through which people can express themselves. That’s why everyone wins when charities pass the storytelling control to supporters.

Fleurie Forbes-Martin is the director of Studio Republic and Keith Williams is the COO of Funraisin

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