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Key takeaways from the Institute of Fundraising Tech conference 2017

Written by Tiffany | 19-Jun-2017 13:55:00

A few weeks ago, I headed to the IoF Tech conference, not far from the Tower of London, on a gloriously sunny Friday. I met with colleagues from the Charity sector and listened to some fantastic speakers cover a variety of hot topics, from GDPR to working with social influencers. Looking back, there were a few standout points and tips that have stayed with me since the event that I thought I’d quickly share.

1. Opt in isn’t the only option when it comes to GDPR

I think everyone working at a charity – or within a partner organisation – knows how hot a topic GDPR is and how increasingly important its becoming, as we creep towards next year’s deadline. At the event, I listened to speakers from Loros Hospice and the DMA talk about GDPR and it was great to hear opinions from both a charity working to adhere to the rules and a body committed to helping charities interpret the rules correctly. One of the main messages I took away was that yes, there are big boys like RNLI and
Cancer Research going full opt in, but don’t panic! This isn’t your only option. 

Expect to see a rise in the number of DPO (Data Protection Officer) roles at charities rise, to help navigate the changes and decide on a course of action. Identify who this is within your organisation and work collaboratively with them. And it’s not just the jobs at the top that matter. There is likely to be a large variety of people within your organisation that will be involved in data handling in some way or another – from the marketing team to volunteers – so ensure you plan enough time to train these people on the new processes that are put in place to ensure successful data management.

2. Young people will never fill in a form for a direct debit

The morning keynote was Charles Wells from Just Giving. He kicked off the day by talking about the rising trend he and the Just Giving team are seeing in crowd funding on the platform. He no doubt woke everyone up with his statement that young people won’t donate via Direct Debit.

Looking at data for young people* donating to charity via Direct Debit in TGI we can see a decline in DD donations, down almost 10% September 2016 versus the previous year.

Instead, he talked about Netflix and Spotify as 2 examples of subscription products (in theory like an ongoing donation) which aren’t paid for via Direct Debit, so the use of DD as a payment option he expects to only further decline. With 32% and 38% of young people having used Spotify and Netflix respectively** I’d have to say I agree.

The recommendation was that charities need to be considering crowd funding for donations. The tie to a specific cause gives people visibility as to where their money is going and allows them to get behind a specific cause or story close to their heart, which they’re then more likely to share. The largest recent example of this is Billy Monger’s story, who’s
Just Giving page has raised over £820,000

3. Are you making it easy enough for those people that want to donate to do so?

This presentation was perhaps one of the most enjoyable of the day for me. We heard from Emily Sturdy, formerly of the Alzheimer’s Society, and her agency colleague, on their work on the donation funnel. They talked in detail together about the complete process, from the reason behind the revamp (low conversion rates), to the research steps with both internal and external stakeholders, the prototyping and finally the results.

They shared two features they were particularly proud of that I’ve remembered.

    1. The first was a simple help box, pointing users to an email address and phone number to complete their donation, if they were having difficulty doing it online (something that could potentially be likely due to the age of the typical donor).

    2. The second feature was the introduction of Apple Pay, which enables users to donate to the charity using just their fingerprint. Users will have already synced their Credit or Debit card with their Wallet app on their device and so no longer need to input their card details but just touch their fingerprint to their device to authorise the payment. Alzheimer’s Society are one of a handful of the largest UK charities to implement this recent technology. It will be interesting to see whether they share any results.
    Stats from Worldpay suggest eWallets represent 22% of UK online payments.

4. Utilise swim lane diagrams to improve internal processes

The quick lunchtime session I attended focused on embedding digital strategy with both technical and non-technical stakeholders, which is a challenge for many people both client and agency side. It’s not unusual to hear – in any organisation – the phrase “that’s just the way we’ve always done it”. The advice in this session was to invest time in reviewing existing processes, particularly long-standing processes, and seeing whether there are time savings to be made.

Step one is to first map out the process as it currently works using a swim lane diagram. Then sit with the teams involved in the process and discuss which steps could be removed to streamline the process and save time. 

This struck a chord with me because I know from my experience of working with many charities that there are often a number of internal departments involved in a campaign or project, with external stakeholders then involved as well, which means things can easily become over complicated – or get confused. This simple visual works as a planning tool for someone who’s visual like me and I think would help easily spot those steps that might be able to be removed to speed up a project.
Summing up the event, it was apparent that topics like GDPR are dominating people’s thoughts and concerns but it was great to see that discussions around innovation and better ways of working aren’t being pushed to the side lines in the meantime. I always enjoy hearing from charities themselves and it’s great to get together with colleagues from the sector. It was a great event to re-inspire thinking and to get a few practical tips and ideas for today.

*15-24 year olds

**TGI data, 2017 Q1, 15-24 year olds