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Key takeaways from the IoF Technology Group Annual Conference

Written by Cat | 24-May-2016 15:46:53

On Friday I attended the Institute of Fundraising Technology Group Annual Conference. The nerves of the room were definitely tangible in light of the potential Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) and compliance was a recurring grumble throughout the day. Nevertheless, hopefully all participants left as motivated as I did, armed with lengthy to-do lists! Here are my key takeaways from the event:

1. Some exciting news from Facebook

The Morning Keynote was delivered by John Carr, Partner Manager from Facebook Europe. Carr reported that there are now 1.6 million people using the platform a month,
150 million of which are now connected to Not-For-Profits – highlighting that Facebook is still a core channel for charities to empower their supporters.

When the Nepal earthquake hit in April last year we saw
Facebook trial a Donate feature which landed at the top of News Feed. More than half a million people donated and Facebook raised more than $10 million dollars to support International Media Corps and their rescue efforts. On Friday Carr announced that Facebook are now testing this functionality for all charities. The new Donate feature will allow users to click and donate directly in the app itself, increasing conversions by enabling donations in a few simple taps. They’re also planning to bring the functionality to page posts too, giving the opportunity for new donors to be able to see what their friends are up to.

Credit: Facebook

Setting the tone for the day and kicking-off the general nervousness around the FPS, unsurprisingly the first question asked was “who owns the data and how is it kept secure?” Carr replied with a wonderfully diplomatic and vague answer, stating that Facebook haven’t yet ironed out all the creases, but how great are events like this for providing the opportunity to test new ideas with a real audience? While we wait for Carr to report back to the Facebook boffins and finish testing, we’re excited about this new opportunity for charities, but can’t help but wonder if this will be a Paid feature. All we can do for now is watch the space.

Carr also provided a few top line recommendations for a fundraising strategy for Facebook:

“The highest influencer in donation spend is friends and family recommendations”.

We’ve seen this across all sectors. Individuals are more likely to listen to the voice of their peers over brands, so
it’s important to think of how you can create ambassadors of your cause from your existing followers.

“The majority of impact on Facebook happens in the first 10 seconds – get them for 3 and hold them for 10.”

Whilst this is nothing we didn’t already know, it’s useful to re-emphasise
the importance of visual assets on Facebook. Carr supported this by measuring the best performing statuses and unsurprisingly video and VR were at the top, with text now being the worst performing format.

Carr also announced that there has been a
shift from search to discovery – everything competes with everything. Your content now competes with today’s content, yesterday’s content and past content. Carr said

“the gap between content creation and the ability to consume will continue to widen”.

In the old days there used to be around 500 stories you were applicable for in your daily News Feed, now there are 5,000. There are also now 50 million Pages on Facebook, so Facebook are starting to see a shift from Pages to Messaging.

According to John, 6 of the top 10 apps in the world are messaging apps and there are already 1 million messages being sent on Facebook for businesses. Facebook think
Messaging will also bring back the face to face interaction that we used to have with our supporters before the digital revolution, giving the relationship with our supporters a much needed refresh.

2. A new mindset for charities

Once the mist had settled around the ever-elusive Facebook, the rest of the day consisted of a thorough shakeup for most of the charities in the room and challenged them to think differently and get with the curve.

Laila Takeh, Digital Strategist and CMO of Raising IT, shared an image from the top of the Golden Temple in India with a sign that reads ‘Free Wifi’. She used this to demonstrate that “Digital is pervasive”, yet a lot of charities are still behind the digital curve. Charities have a great opportunity to create a highly valuable and mutually beneficial relationship with their supporters through Social Media and Content. Takeh’s talk was controversially titled ‘Social media is dead, it’s just communication’ – yet it’s true! All communication is social and social media shouldn’t be treated as an add-on. As we always say, people buy people and that’s why they’re part of our digital formula (digital + technology + people).

Following on from this thought,
Jonathan Cook, Director at Insight-Ful, asked “how many people walk by and put money in your letterboxes – why then do we expect to see the same results from our websites?“ He challenged us to really think about who uses our websites. A lot of charities forget that a significant number of visitors are service users, yet charities are thrashing them with a ‘donate’ message. The difference between what supporters want and what charities think they want is a common problem that our clients come to us with – that’s why all of our content starts with the audience.

Adding to this rethink,
Mandy Johnson, UK Director of Partnerships for Change.Org, told us to ask ourselves “is the current way of addressing our core purpose the best way?” Ask yourself, are we still providing what your founder had in mind? And is this still what your supporters need?

3. Stop being scared

Another key takeaway was around fear. Charities have got to stop being scared. Takeh highlighted that the charity sector has less money for experimenting. To try something new usually means you need to stop doing something old, which can be scary if it doesn’t go right.
Charities need to take the risk and try it. Lucy Gower, Director of Lucidity, added to this that we all need to join ‘The Cock-Up Club’ – failure is important and there are always ways to make it less scary.

4. How to cut through the noise

Fortunately, the speakers didn’t leave us with lots of difficult questions to ask ourselves and each session was backed up with some great tips on how to stand out.

  1. Visuals are keyDuncan Knox, founder of Hubbub, reminded us that campaigns with video are twice as likely to be more effective, and the first 30 seconds are key.

    Facebook reiterated this – the human brain only needs to see an image for 13 milliseconds to identify it as it process images 60,000 times faster than words. Ask yourself what more can you do with imagery?
  2. Create a major donor experience – Brett De Gaynesford, Deputy Director of Development at Somerville College, told us to create an enriching experience for individual donors that provides people with personal stewardship and puts them in control. Consider how you can tailor your donation experience for your supporters, and what more you can do for them?
  3. Remember where you are – Takeh reminded us that with social media we are invading a space that is meant to be peer-to-peer. Charities and businesses alike need to earn their space, but you can do it by becoming a badge people want to use to express themselves. Think about how you are going to align your brand to someone’s interests. 
  4. And finally, you need to be remarkable to stand out – this might be easier said than done, but I’ll leave you with this video to inspire you.

    Takeh showed us this ad campaign form Quilted Northern, an American manufacturer of toilet paper. Takeh said “if toilet paper can be remarkable, your causes can be remarkable too.”

All in all, the IoF Technology Group is a great collection of people, all who are volunteers from both the charity and commercial side of the NFP sector. They did a fantastic job of the day, sharing some great insights and fingers crossed they managed to raise lots of £££s for charity too. For the first 500 tweets using the #ioftech their sponsors Advanced NFP would donate 50p to charity and equimedia was certainly one of them.