Why Do Charities Need a Digital Strategy?

In today’s digital world it’s vital that organisations have a digital strategy. Digitisation has radically transformed the landscape, and charities with little to no online presence or digital strategy will quickly find themselves struggling to survive.

What is a Digital Strategy?

A digital strategy is a fundamental part of the wider business strategy, used to maximise growth and value. We achieve this by investing in various technologies—such as websites, online content, and digital advertising—that enable us to communicate and tell our stories to our online audience.

What Needs to Change?

A recent Charity Digital Skills Report from Skills Platform has shown that half of UK charities don’t have a digital strategy and the lack of both skills and funding have been cited as the biggest obstacles to getting more from digital.

As disconcerting as these findings may be, they highlight the need for a stronger digital presence and the importance of digital as a channel for charities to reach their goals. Digital should no longer be viewed as unrelated to the charity’s strategy, but rather as a crucial link in the organisation’s network.

How do You Implement a Digital Strategy?

When considering your digital strategy, it’s important to establish your objectives – where you would like digital to take your organisation and, ultimately, how you can get there. Whether your aim is to grow your charity’s network or increase fundraising, it’s vital to embed good digital practice throughout your organisation.

Gone are the days when a small digital team works separately from the rest of the organisation to develop the online presence.  Embedding digital skills into the majority of your workforce and training staff on social media brings other benefits. It not only shares vital expertise, but has the ability to transform and strengthen the framework of your organisation by allowing you to build your online presence and upskill your staff at the same time.

Digital Marketing

The terms ‘digital marketing strategy’ and ‘digital strategy’ are often confused; digital marketing is a component of digital strategy and enables you to engage with customers in an online environment, such as social media.

Interacting with your customers using a variety of communicative media, such as photographs and written or video content allows you to be more creative with how you share your story, whilst giving your online presence some character. Studies have indicated that audiences are more responsive to content with a personal and emotional message as opposed to a promotional one, so this is where charities can really strive to engage with users.

Reach and Engagement on Social Media

Reach on social media platforms is staggering—can you think of someone you know who has internet access and isn’t active on at least one social media platform? (They’re very few and far between!) Your content has the potential to be seen, commented on, liked, or shared at an exponential rate, further increasing its reach. Facebook advertising is a cheap and cost effective tool to boost your online presence and share your story.

Ultimately, it’s all about results. Using marketing tactics such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and content marketing allows you to convert those new and unengaged users into engaged users who will like, share and respond to your content.

Website

It’s vital to have a strong website; this is a key information centre and a place to share your story further, so investing in the user experience is of the utmost importance. Users will expect your website to be simple and intuitive to use as well as looking slick and professional. Responsive web design with the use of rich media—such as video and imagery–will engage and excite users.

The website could be used to fundraise or build a list of subscribers for a monthly newsletter—the possibilities are endless, so investing time in your website to ensure it is both user-friendly and engaging is important.

Internalising Website Management

The internal aspects of managing a website also need to be considered. A website with a content management system that allows you to upload and edit content, as well as carrying out basic site maintenance, is both a practical and beneficial aspect of any digital strategy.

Platforms such as WordPress give you that functionality, allowing you to manage your own content, add blogs & videos as the site matures, without the need to pay a developer to do that for you. This also allows you to be more engaged and responsive with your online community.

Websites ultimately attract visitors and enable you to communicate with the world, therefore they should not be neglected. Improving the user experience will encourage visitors to share their experience and recommend your organisation to others, thus completing the user life cycle.

  Case Study: UNICEF 

UNICEF’s use of rich digital media on their website creates an engaging user experience; most importantly, their website is easily navigable with clear donation buttons and their use of video evokes an emotional response.

Infographics make information easier to digest and encourage donations by focusing on the positive changes that the charity are creating.

They have also implemented responsive web design, which is critical for any organisation today, allowing for optimal browsing on any size of screen.

Conclusion

Digital strategy should be viewed as more of a framework than a business plan: there is no one size fits all approach.

It can maximise the growth and value of your organisation and can be used to achieve key objectives through the effective use of digital marketing, social media and developing a website that really packs a punch. It’s important to track results and measure your impact using features such google analytics.

There is a definitive need for charities to have a wider digital presence. Implementing a digital strategy into your organisation’s network will ultimately increase fundraising, grow your network and deliver strategy more effectively.

Remember—your overall strategy is only as strong as your weakest activity; if you don’t have a digital strategy in place, this weakens the overall impact of your wider initiatives.

The amount of digital opportunities are endless—go and seize them!

How We can Help You

We are on a mission to help charities get digital. Working in partnership with ACK, we will help you get online, in the most cost effective way – there may even be the possibility of funding.

Drop us an email to find out more at hello@ashtonmcgill.com

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