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Why do digital?

21 December 2018

Digital is not a cult. It doesn’t have any robes or great leaders to worship. There’s no renouncing your worldly possessions and living in a field.

And yet all too often, it can feel like the job of a digital communications professional is to convert non-believers on their senior leadership team to the digital cause. If management are questioning why your charity should use digital then perhaps they just need a helping hand to understand its relevance.

I believe it’s time to take a step back and think about the answers to the question: why should digital communicators use digital? The following tips should help you to put forward a strong argument to get more investment.

It supports your existing comms strategy

One way you can win the buy in of your senior leadership team is to show them how digital will support your existing comms strategy. Don’t create a standalone digital comms strategy. Instead, write new sub-sections in the comms strategy that show how digital will contribute.

It’s an opportunity to test key messages

If there’s any internal debate about what your charity’s key messages should be, set up a series of Facebook Dark Posts. These are posts that can only be seen by people who aren’t already connected to your page. This will allow you to test variants of your message.

Post A could use a bold, radical version of your proposed tagline, say, while Post B uses a softer, more collegiate variation.

Whichever post gets most engagement (likes, comments and shares) can be declared the winner of the test. It’s a brilliant way to see how your messages resonate in the real world without a huge, expensive launch.

It gives your messages scalable reach

Think about how your team typically communicates with the outside world. Traditional forms of communication such as the phone and post can be quite expensive if you use them regularly.

Instead, email marketing, social media and digital advertising allow you to get your message across to thousands of people at scale and at a more manageable cost.

It’s targeted PR

Social media is the new press release. For proof, see how many news outlets use tweets from respected figures in their articles.

By using individual Twitter accounts to build and maintain relationships with national, local and trade journalists, you’ll be able to publicise your charity’s news.

Let’s say you’re an environmental charity. You should look up relevant journalists who work in your field and start following them on Twitter and replying to them with useful information.

Over time you will become a valuable source for their stories.

It supports your fundraising activity

When it comes to fundraising 14% of all giving happens online. Peer to peer fundraising, such as running events, bike rides and other challenges, raises hundreds of millions of pounds a year through giving platforms.

So why do digital fundraising? Well that 14% is increasing every year. Charities are also leaving money on the table by not using the retention tools available to them, including through platforms such as JustGiving and good old-fashioned email marketing which, despite recent data changes and GDPR, still remains one of the top ways to engage with people.

All of this money could be used to change the lives of the people your charity supports.

Convincing senior staff to increase digital resources is not a quick task. You need to regularly update people on digital practice in your organisation to show them how important it is. So build in regular review points with your team and the rest of the organisation to check the arguments for using digital are clear, that they are landing and being used to make decisions that have a real impact on your charity’s work. 

Want to know more? Sign up for the email course  ‘Why do digital’ from Platypus Digital. You’ll receive 10 emails, one a day, containing information to help persuade senior management to invest in digital. It’s free for everyone to access.


Header image: Burak K on Pexels

Matt Collins

managing director, Platypus Digital

Matt is a digital marketer who helps charities use digital channels to raise more money and reach more people. He spent 10 years working for charities large and small, trained with General Assembly and delivers campaigns and training for charities who want to use digital better.