Charities need to ‘avoid thinking of digital as an add-on’

04 Mar 2022 News

Charities should not consider digital as an “add-on,” and look at opportunities to engage younger audiences through newer social media platforms, experts said this week.  

Yasmin Georgiou, digital engagement strategy partner at Action for Children, and Athar Abidi, head of social media at the British Heart Foundation, were speaking at Civil Society Media's Fundraising Live 2022 during a session about tapping into new audiences.

Georgiou told charities that it was important to create a digital strategy and “avoid thinking of digital as an add-on”.

She and Abidi recommended using NCVO’s digital maturity matrix, a tool that helps charities to improve their digital framework. 

How do you reach more young people?

One audience member asked the panel for advice on how to reach more young people, specifically those aged 16 – 25. The charity had trialled using Discord, Snapchat and Twitch but none had stuck, the audience member said.  

Georgiou said “Instagram, IGTV and TikTok” are the best social media platforms to use to attract a younger audience. 

Abidi emphasised the importance of co-creating with young people. It’s about “involving young people and making them front and centre,” he said. 

He said that TikTok may not be worth it for charities “unless you’re tapping into a specific thing – Shelter and Red Cross are very good at it,” he said. 

Georgiou added: “TikTok makes me nervous.”

She explained: “It’s unknowable – the algorithm. If you’re using TikTok it has to be authentic, it’s a very authentic space.”

Nevertheless, she said there were some advantages. 

“The good thing about it is you can launch stuff, learn from it, and then it’s gone,” she said. “It’s not like Facebook, no one scrolls down someone’s TikTok page,” she said.  

Abidi pointed out that the platform has a social good team called TikTok for good. 

Quickest way to grow organic followers

Experts were asked what their quickest win when growing organic acquisition was. 

Abidi advised the audience to value and make the most of “everyone in your CRM (customer relationship management system). Those are your warmest supporters – so it's also cost-effective”.

“Realistically, people only follow one charity,” on social media, Abidi said. He mentioned how it is important to consider the ratio of posts when planning digital content. 

The 10-4-1 rule of posting content can be useful, Abidi said. This means 10 posts should be about your audience, four should be about your cause, and only one post should be asking them to actively do something such as donate, like or follow the charity. 

It’s important to “remind your audience why they’re important” and not come across as too needy, Abidi said. 

Indeed, the Giving Britain survey found some of the public thought charities were too focused on making money and were always asking for “more” from their donors. 

Georgiou told listeners it was important to take one step back and think about your audience. 

“It’s not enough to think of cold and warm audiences,” she said. “Think about your target audience and how your specific charity solves their user needs.”

In the midst of trying to garner a digital following, “we can often forget who we’re trying to attract”, Georgiou said. 

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