Why charities need to increase conversion, part 1

By Mark Hooley

Why charities need to increase conversion, part 1

This article is the first of two on the topic ‘Why charities need to increase conversion’. The posts will guide you on why charities need to increase digital conversions, problems encountered by charities with conversion and the benefits of increasing conversion. 

I think the ultimate goal for many charities is to create a world in which the need for their work ceases to exist. I believe the only way charities can make this happen is to increase conversions and by becoming better at retaining donors and supporters. 

Whether you are playing a prominent role in helping to eradicate polio, protecting some of the most vulnerable animals on the planet or helping in any of the other amazing ways charities contribute to society. Using new and different approaches to conversion is the only means by which you are going to increase the numbers of your supporters and donors to fulfil your organisation’s vision.

To do this, you need to put in place a strategy, structure, systems and processes to develop the life-time value of your donor’s support.

Why charities need to increase digital conversion

Many charities have an ageing donor base whom they have communicated with and continue to correspond with, in a certain way. I have used the word correspond on purpose because that is still what lots of charities do - correspond with supporters, rather than build a life-long relationship with supporters based on value.

But the market and the way people now communicate with each other and the way businesses communicate with customers has completely changed in the past ten years. To be able to fulfil their vision, charities will have to change the way they engage with supporters and potential supporters and also how they create value.

If you consider how your consumption habits and buying behaviour have changed over the last five years: 

      • You are likely to consume more (if not most) of your ‘TV shows’ via streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube or on-demand services.
      • Podcasts will probably make up an increasing proportion of your listening.
      • If you read magazines, you might be a subscriber to Readly.
  • Some of your search activity may be voice-activated using Alexa or Bixby. 
  • Your phone allows you to stay connected and buy anything 24/7. 
  • In Scandinavian countries, cash can’t be used in many outlets, and most payments are made using phone or cards. 

Many of these examples also use different value offerings. Today, how does your charity create value for your supporters?

I think there are two simple but important questions for you to consider:

  • How has your organisation adapted its value creation, marketing strategy and activity to reflect these changes in society?
  • What have the results of these changes been?

It’s then important for you to consider whether your charity or organisation has the matching skills and expertise to optimise these in today’s world?

Looking into the future, the changes we are going see in the next five years thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G and Blockchain are likely to be even bigger than the changes we have seen in the past ten years.

Conversion problems encountered by charities

How do you ensure your communications are going to get the best results for your charity in the long-term? Misaligned communications that lack strategic insight will not offer your current supporters and potential supporters a clear, relevant take-away, or create the most compelling case for support. The piece of communication may even confuse a potential supporter. This will not just impact on conversions, but also the supporter journey and potentially the life-time value of support. Each time your organisation produces a piece of communication, make sure it is aligned and offers strategic value, if it doesn’t, what is the purpose of it? 

You need to consider how a piece of conversion activity is communicated, and this must fit in with the overall goals and strategy of the organisation. Initial conversions must be seen as an opportunity to create a life-long relationship with a supporter. A failure to take supporters and donors through a planned and coordinated welcome and supporter journey will lead to low retention levels and a costly cycle of having to replace an increasing number of lapsed and new donors.

Charities must know and use the most important metrics that make a difference to their business. You need to consider the key figures that impact and influence the business. There can be a misunderstanding of metrics, for example, chasing reach and circulation figures, as opposed to real conversions and items that make a significant difference.

I have put together a guide for you that looks at what your organisation needs to do to get in the right mindset to increase conversions. Also included in my guide is:

  • Using conversion metrics effectively.
  • The role of your brand in increasing conversions.
  • The need for consistency.
  • The importance of purpose.

Download the charity conversion guide

The second article on this topic will look at the benefits of increasing conversion, barriers preventing conversion and how charities can increase conversion.

Mark Hooley
Content creator at Zooma 2019 - 2020.
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