18th April 2016John Spry
Fundraising in the Digital Space – An Interview with Hubbub
A thriving ecosystem is being created for fundraising in the digital space. Social Misfit Media state in their Friends with Money report that “in 2013, a staggering £2.4 billion was donated online and via mobile in the UK alone, a 13% increase from the year before. This means that a quarter of all philanthropic donations made in the UK came directly from websites, social media, and apps.”
We also see that philanthropists are engaging with digital technology at both ends of the giving spectrum. The 2015 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index, which surveyed 400 individual high-net worth philanthropists worldwide, found that over 40% were using social media or crowd funding for giving purposes. The Give as you Live Survey of 8,000 charity supporters noted that over a third of participants stated that social media had inspired them to give, and that a friend or family member asking them to give online was number one in why they gave. And New Philanthropy Capital’s research paper on innovations in philanthropy noted that online giving markets were one of nine future trends to watch out for.
Hubbub is one example of a digital fundraising platform being rolled out with great success by universities and non-profits worldwide. We spoke to Ralitsa Padalska at Hubbub to find out more about their experiences in the digital fundraising space.
Hi Ralitsa, thank for being here. I wanted to start by asking you to explain Hubbub?
“Sure! Hubbub helps charities and universities to implement digital giving programs. One way we do this is by making institutions their own branded crowdfunding platforms along with strategy and implementation guidance. It’s been received very well and is delivering great results! One such example is the University of York, where the use of the platform led to an increase of 33% in total donor numbers in their first year. The platform is customised for each customer, complete with branding, and integrated into the regular giving development programmes.”
Could you provide an example of its use?
“Of course. To take the crowdfunding platform we built for the University of York as an example, students or staff can access the digital platform and request the creation of a fundraising appeal. The central development office grants permission to do so. Students and staff then fundraise for their causes, which range from raising funds for equipment for their sports club, to funds for a society or charity projects. Donors are shown an opt-in button after donating to a project that allows them to be contacted by the central development office regarding regular donations. The University of York has raised £70,000 for student causes since launching the platform.”
How does this sit alongside telephone campaigns and direct mails?
“It’s important to note that digital giving doesn’t replace telephone campaigns or direct mail, but should sit alongside them. For example, some universities are using their telethons to ask for donations to projects on their crowdfunding platform. However,in terms of expense, telephone and direct mail are becoming more expensive and digital platforms can offer another option to diversify income streams.”
How do you find development teams are adapting to incorporate digital fundraising?
“More and more, development teams are incorporating digital marketing into their fundraising plans and seeing the importance of having an effective online donor experience – particularly when it comes to young donor acquisition. It can be a big shift for development teams to set up a crowdfunding platform but we find that for an effective digital strategy on average, development teams need approximately 1.5 days per week to manage their platform and get the most from it. The biggest misconception out there is that you put a website up, and it does the fundraising for you. In fact, it is like traditional fundraising – you need to engage supporters and champions, you need to manage the data and the relationships, and you need to follow up with supporters.”
What are the key results from the use of Hubbub?
“We are working with over 30 universities in the UK, Europe and the US and have hosted hundreds of projects on our free hubbub.org platform, so we have extensive experience in working with young people and helping them make their ideas a reality. For universities, especially in the UK, this means educating everyone about philanthropy from the day they start their degree and giving them space to have fun and try fundraising out themselves. We hope that we are helping creating the donors of the future for higher education in particular by raising awareness on the subject and giving it centre stage within the digital fundraising space.”
What is your advice to charities looking at digital fundraising for the first time?
Look around and see what works best for you, there are lots of solutions and your choice depends on what you are trying to achieve; are you after boosting donor numbers? Getting more regular gifts or more younger donors? Consider everything that you are hoping to achieve and choose accordingly. Also don’t leave planning for the last minute – this would not be any different than any of your other appeal in terms of you needing to always be prepared and ready to ask (in the right way and through the right channels of course).
Finally, embrace the power of social media and make the most of it – it can be a powerful tool in raising awareness of your campaign before you’ve even started fundraising.
What does the future hold?
We are hoping to foster the future donors for Higher education by making the link between students and philanthropy at the forefront of our work. Being able to integrate what we do with even more exciting and ambitious institutions is what we love doing so this is always an exciting prospect. There is nothing more gratifying than helping an idea come to life and this is what ‘traditional’ fundraising already does very well – digital can give it a boost and make sure it stays relevant as millennials turn into the major giving prospects of the future in both charity and education sectors.
Thanks for your time, Ralitsa.