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Top Digital Tools to Help Charities Measure Their Impact

Evaluating the impact and value of charity work is crucial to attracting further funding and helping to improve. Here are five top digital tools and resources to help charities prove they are making a difference.

The NCVO’s Road Ahead report earlier this year stressed the importance to charities of being able to effectively show the impact of their work.

Measuring social impact is vital to transparency in the sector and to securing funding from trusts, government and the public alike.

Effective evaluation also helps charities to assess their strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint areas to improve.

“As the general public have increasing expectations of transparency and accountability, charities face more pressure to demonstrate they are trustworthy,” states this state of the sector report for the year.

“A big part of this is about ensuring there is congruence between values and actions, being transparent about how money is spent and finding the best way of showing impact.”

Thankfully measuring impact has been made easier through a range of useful tools and guides created to help the sector.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


Trusted Charities Essential Tool

Trusted Charity Essentials is a free online tool designed especially for small charities as a way to do a basic health check on how your organisation is doing.

This cost free tool benchmarks your work in 10 key areas – it will help assess the impact you have on the ground and whether you are making the best use of your resources.

Get the tool by clicking here.

Source: NCVO


What Should Feature in a Fundraising Strategy?

If you are thinking about putting together a fundraising strategy for the first time, or you’re in the process of doing so, there are some things you will need to think about.

Successful fundraising starts with a fundraising strategy which, in short, should serve to identify what resources will be required in order to reach a fundraising goal; although a fundraising strategy does not necessarily have to focus on just raising money, but could also help you to meet your other charitable aims.

The Institute of Fundraising has found that a lot of charities do not actually have clear fundraising plans, and are not clear what a fundraising strategy looks like – so if you are thinking about putting together a strategy for the first time, or you’re in the process of doing so, there are some things you will need to think about.

The three main elements of a fundraising strategy, like many other strategies, are:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to get to?
  • How are we going to get there?

So, firstly, you’ll need to outline the main aims and objectives of your project – or your project’s mission statement. This might include details on why you are raising the money, as well as the kinds of work your organisation has been doing. Think about what is happening in the wider world outside your organisation – factors like the current economic situation may have a direct effect on how much you can raise!

A useful tool for this is called a STEEPLE Analysis. Once you have looked at the external factors, you should then looks at what the ‘market is doing, for example, if local companies aren’t making profits, then basing your fundraising on generating income from business may be a challenge.  What resources do you have available internally – if you have your office staffed by one volunteers, then perhaps it is unrealistic to plan a fundraising appeal to lots and lots of individual donors – who would deal with the donations, bank and thank?  Pulling this all together, A SWOT analysis is useful in identifying possible Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your project.

Then you need to think of where do you want to be?  So, for example, would raising £15,000 to fund an office move solve your problems, or do you need revenue funding which will enable you to cover your core costs for the next few years? Once you have decided where you want to be, and what you want to achieve, then you can start to build the strategy for how to get there…

It is vital therefore to spend time to research possible sources for funding, whether it’s through approaching corporates for support, or targeting major donors, for example.

Another area to consider are the extra resources you will need in order to fulfil your plan, such as extra volunteers, or training.

As you work at fulfilling your strategy, it is important to constantly monitor your progression so that you can measure your success, and put into place further steps, if necessary, if the plan does not quite turn out as predicted.

Source: Institute of Fundraising


Meaningful Engagement: Developing Strong Content

In parts 1 and 2 of this series we explored why you need a social engagement strategy, and how to look at your historical data to understand what your audience is responding to. This part will delve a bit deeper into thinking about content development for your social channels as well as what should be included in your strategy.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of creating social posts that all feel quite samey. It’s safe, you know what you’re doing – and you’re keeping on top of everyone’s requests (or perhaps demands!) on how the channels should be used. But a broader range of content will be more engaging for your audience. Plus, posts that look different from one another will stand out in their feed, especially if people have grown used to your posts all looking very similar to each other.

Content creation

If the idea of coming up with more varied content sounds daunting – don’t despair. This isn’t about creating lots of brand new images and graphics for use on social. Your strategy will only succeed if it’s simple enough to keep up. You want your social channels to work in harmony with other online content, and a good chunk of your social posts can be based on sharing key website pages, links to YouTube videos, sharing blog posts – or even news stories you might have been featured in. What’s key is how you frame snippets from those stories, so that the post is interesting enough in its own right, as well as likely to draw people to want to follow the link and see more.

This post from Plan International UK stood out to me because it told a story that we don’t hear so often from international development charities. It brings to life what phrases like “poverty alleviation” mean in practice.

To read the full CharityComms article click here.

Source: CharityComms


Meaningful Engagement: Finding What Works

Hopefully you’ve read the first post in this series and are ready to start thinking about how to pull your social engagement strategy together. Here’s the method that I have drawn up based on my experience. You might choose to use it wholesale, or adapt certain elements. Remember with this sort of thing that ‘done’ is generally more important than ‘perfect’!

This post will focus on data – what you need to look into and pull together in order to start writing a document up. You can broadly use this approach for any of your social channels, though I am focusing here more on Twitter and Facebook, as they are widely used and have fantastic built-in analytics.

Let’s get analytical

Firstly you need to answer the question: what are our audiences responding to? You will need to do this separately for each channel – the nuts and bolts might be slightly different but the process will be the same.
1.Choose a timeframe. I would recommend six months as a solid starting point. Shorter periods might be less useful, particularly if you have had a specific campaign running that might have skewed your content output over that time.
2.Export the post data. I do this within the platform, as sometimes third party platforms cause variations in the data that I don’t quite understand. That said – if you prefer to use a third party platform, that’s fine too – just so long as you continue to use it when reviewing ongoing performance, so you are comparing like-for-like. Note that you might also need to do multiple exports, as some platforms have a limit (eg three months) for the date range you can export.
3.Determine what to measure. I tend to look at visibility and engagement.

Twitter: Exporting the data from Twitter gives you “impressions” and “engagement rate”. Reach is generally a more useful measure for engagement, as it tells you how many people have seen your content in their feed; impressions can be misleading because you can’t break down how often the same people have seen your content. That said, for the purposes of this work, impressions is fine so long as you continue to use the same measure when evaluating ongoing results.

To read the full CharityComms article click here.

Source: CharityComms


Meaningful Engagement: Do You Need a Social Strategy?

If CharityComms had a pound for every time a potential client included in their initial contact the sentence: “We want to grow our fundraising from social channels” They’d be rich.

Digital is – rightly – a cornerstone of many charities’ strategies now, and over the last few years growth in digital income has been a key tool in staving off the flat-lining or decline of previously solid channels. And, of course, organic social offers the opportunity to raise awareness, create PR opportunities and engage directly with followers – and you can “make it go viral”…!

The thing is, though, it’s not quite that straightforward. Many charities see little by way of discernible results, but feel they should be on social channels because everyone else is / their audience is / there’s a line in the broader organisational strategies about growing social. Your followers – even for those of you blessed with a comparatively large audience – aren’t sitting there, waiting for you to post something. In fact, many of them might not even be seeing your posts at all, depending on what’s going on with the algorithms / your engagement / other things happening on social this week.

So helping someone drive value from social starts with helping them build their social community online. I want to run you through a basic guide to how you can do this for yourself.

Why should we have a social engagement strategy?
•To give focus to what you share on your social channels – and how you share it
•To build in a test and learn approach to your content delivery
•To build an audience who will help you achieve your organisational goals

Making an impact on social media

Often, charities use social channels to broadcast. Sharing “our” news. Updating you on “our” latest achievement. Telling you what “we” are doing. It’s not all that, well, social. So, typically, engagement with posts is pretty low, audience growth is slow and many of your posts are essentially you screaming into the void.

The good news is you can take huge strides to improve this situation. Creating a social engagement strategy will require a little investment of time, but you can keep this fairly streamlined. And it doesn’t need to be aligned with a digital strategy (if your charity even has one) or a broader comms strategy – indeed, for my money it should absolutely be kept separate to some degree, because it needs to be a living, breathing strategy with room for flex and change.

To read the full CharityComms article click here.

Source: CharityComms


Cyber Security FAQ: Why Charities Can’t Afford to Ignore the Risk from Malware

The world of cyber crime can seem murky and mysterious – cyber criminals are, after all, a faceless threat and charities are focused on the here and now, running their day to day operations and making a difference. But weapons such as malware are indiscriminate, and anyone can be stung. That is why in this article we try to shed some light on the world of malware, with help from cyber security experts Avast.

Q: What is malware?

A: Malware (short for malicious software) is a common tool that cyber criminals use to get inside devices, take control of them or steal information.

In much the same way as the common cold, malware (short for malicious software) is easily caught and always evolving. It continues getting faster and cleverer, finding new ways to access your charity’s devices or network. And just like a cold, it’s much easier to prevent it than it is to deal with its effects once it’s taken hold.

Q: Are charities at risk from malware?

A: Yes. Just like commercial organisations, charities hold valuable data that cyber criminals will trade for a high price on the black market. Malware is one common (and easy) way of stealing that data.

One in five charities were affected by a breach of their data last year, costing them an average of £9,470 to fix what could have been prevented for a tiny fraction of that cost.

But monetary cost is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether or not data is stolen or recovered, the charity sector exists on a foundation of trust. Charities simply cannot afford anything that damages their reputation in the eyes of the public, their stakeholders, service users or supporters.

Added to this, charities running a tight shift to deliver critical services to their communities and service users often rely on the use of data and computers. The resulting downtime from dealing with a malware infection is just not an option.

All of this makes malware a significant threat to charities.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


How Your Charity Can Punch Above its Weight on Instagram

Almost everyone’s at least heard of Instagram. But perhaps you’re not sure how to best use it for your charity, especially if you’re a smaller organisation with fewer resources.

This is a timely topic of conversation; next week is Small Charity Week, organised by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI). The Small Charities Coalition (SCC) is using the week to launch their Big Support Small campaign, where they’re encouraging charities of different sizes to work together to have a powerful impact.

This got me thinking on how larger organisations such as where I work, the Charities Aid Foundation, can help. In our 2019 Charity Landscape report it was revealed that 86% of charities with an annual income below £1m are trying to boost social media engagement or are planning on doing so in the next 12 months.

I know that 91% of charities are run by volunteers and have limited budgets. So, with this in mind, I wanted to share this quick and easy guide for small charity full of free advice on how to get up and running on Instagram.

Let’s start with some juicy stats:

  • Instagram is the second most engaged with the network after Facebook
  • There are 1 billion monthly active users and 25 million business profiles
  • Users like 4.2 billion posts per day
  • There are 95 million posts per day and 500 million stories a day

And most importantly: it’s your chance to tell your story and reach donors, volunteers and advocates.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


How to Make the Most of Facebook Charitable Giving Tools

Running England’s national air ambulance transfer service for children without any government funding is a costly feat – each life-saving transfer costs around £2,800, with two new helicopters planned for 2018. This year, Children’s Air Ambulance has pulled out all the stops to meet its goal of raising an extra £32m over 7 years.

The charity was one of the first in the UK to make use of Facebook Charitable Giving Tools after they were launched in the UK in September 2017.

Now free for charities, Facebook Charitable Giving tools offer them the chance to:

  • Add a donate button directly on their pages, and also on any posts they create, so people can donate directly to charities without leaving the site. These donate forms hold donors’ credit card details so it’s easier and quicker to give.
  • Alongside this, Facebook users can now launch their own fundraisers and are prompted to start one on their birthday for a charity of their choice.
  • Charities can also add a donation button to live video events through Facebook Live.

Facebook’s scale means charities can reach as wide an audience as possible, without having to justify a hefty investment of time or money. As a result of using the tools around its campaign, Children’s Air Ambulance raised almost ten times as much in 2017 than in the same period the previous year.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


Instagram Launches Donation Stickers for Charities

Charities and their supporters in the UK can now create 24-hour fundraising campaigns in Instagram Stories using a new Instagram donation sticker with 100% of the money raised going to the charity concerned.

Any Instagram user who views the fundraiser can click on the donation sticker to give to the charity without ever leaving Instagram. There are currently an estimated 24 million Instagram users in the UK.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


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