Is Coronavirus stealing everyone’s attention?

With the Covid-19 crisis escalating worldwide, we thought it would be interesting to see whether the intense focus on this particular pandemic is affecting the attention that other global issues receive. What impact has it had on other charities, especially those that work in non health-related fields? Have people stopped talking about climate change, poverty and famine? Does anyone even remember the pre-Christmas wildfires in Australia, which seemed to be the only thing people were talking about online for weeks?

We plugged a host of keywords into a social listening tool to see what we could find out. Some interesting things emerged – some expected, some less so.

Coronavirus is the hot topic, but for how long?

Unsurprisingly, online chat about coronavirus has shot up since the end of February. At its peak, over 12-13 March, there were around 35 million mentions of it online. However, there has been a dip in the couple of days since. Will we get to a stage where people are bored of talking about it? All jokes will have been rinsed, all pictures of empty supermarket shelves and disinformation about people with coronavirus not being able to see the moon shared to the point of inanity.

Compare this to the 2019-20 wildfires in Australia, which killed 34 humans and an estimated one billion animals. The online chat hit a first peak in late August, with over two million mentions per day, and then a second peak in December with 1.5 million. In the last two months it has stayed steady at half a million mentions a day.

This has not had much impact on other disaster topics

More surprisingly, the new focus on coronavirus has not coincided with much of a dip in discussions about other global issues. People are still talking about climate change, refugees, poverty, and cancer. Mentions of these issues have only dipped by 2% since the end of February compared to the four months prior.

This has had an impact on large charities

While people are still talking about global issues more broadly, they are talking less about the large charities that tackle them. Chat about Greenpeace, Cancer Research UK, UNICEF, WWF and more has decreased by 28% since coronavirus started consuming all media output. Mentions of charity, fundraising, donations, and non-profits have also decreased by 11% since the end of February.

So to some extent, the intense focus on coronavirus has impacted on the attention that unrelated charities are receiving. It remains to be seen whether those charities notice a dip in income, although those that rely heavily on events or footfall in shops for their fundraising will almost certainly be the hardest hit.

For now, coronavirus is, of course, dominating global debate. How long that lasts for is unknown, but it is encouraging for engagers and fundraisers in non-profits around the world alike to see that other important global issues are not going unnoticed, at least for the timebeing. 

European conference tour – what I learnt

Over the past two weeks, our CEO Jason Potts and I have been lucky enough to speak at three fundraising conferences in Europe and to attend sessions run by other fundraisers. While the locations (Austria, Slovakia and Holland) and themes of the conferences were different, I wanted to share some recurring trends.

i. There is no easy solution

A few times over the course of the conferences, I heard people say “I was hoping to come here and find the solution.” I pondered this for a while, before coming to the conclusion that there is no easy solution. How can there be one thing which every non-profit could implement which would work for them all? If fundraising was easy, would it still be the huge sector it is today, with thousands of people across the world working to raise funds for non-profits? Wouldn’t that easy solution have been rolled out and most of us have been made redundant? This takes me on to my second observation:

ii. People have a fear of interaction

The thought of sitting listening to someone talk to me for 1.5hrs or more fills me with dread. I would much rather be part of an interactive session where I can use my brain, work with my peers and learn by doing. It was therefore interesting to see that the majority of ‘workshops’ I attended were not in fact sessions where people were asked to ‘work’, but presentations from experts with a few moments of interaction during Q&As. This makes sense if what people are really looking for is an easy solution, and they want to come and listen to someone tell them how to do their job, but so much is then missed in terms of peer-to-peer interaction and learning.

iii. We’re still a very insular sector

At two of the conferences, there were no speakers from outside the sector. At the third, non-sector speakers made up perhaps 10% of the speaking roster. What is the sector’s fear of learning from other sectors, from being inspired by what’s possible when you have budget to spend and resources at your fingertips? No, we might not be able to then directly replicate what those in other sectors are doing, but we could at least be inspired by them.

iv. What goes around, comes around

In the same way that fashion comes around again and again, we shouldn’t be naive to think that old techniques can be pushed aside every time the next big thing comes along. However, we’re still seeing too much of those old methods at these conferences and not providing enough space for what’s new. Sessions entitled ‘What’s new, what’s working and what’s not’ don’t really seem to highlight the emerging trends. If we’re to catch up with the for profit sector, we need to think about leapfrogging what’s happening yesterday, today and tomorrow and look at what’s going to be happening next year.


I realise this post may be a little negative – this is not to say that I didn’t learn some amazing things and get to network with incredible fundraisers who are working tirelessly to do good, but I do think we need to start rethinking some of the ways that we engage at these conferences if we’re really going to accelerate our sector and look to learn all we can from what is happening in the wider world.

48 hours to build the most awesome digital campaign the world has ever seen

Following the success of our innovative and highly-rated hothouse session in Amsterdam last year, we are returning to the IFC in October with a masterclass running along the same lines.

Put simply, we are giving ourselves – and the delegates – 48 hours to build the most awesome digital campaign the world has ever seen.

We’ll start off by sharing the creative principles and successful studies from causes that have engaged support and raised real money online. We’ll then hand over to the delegates to work in groups to create campaigns around a brief they help to create.

As well as the speakers’ expertise, delegates will have access to virtual support from THINK’s specialist digital designers, online influencer researchers and social media marketing experts – all working remotely to build the awesome digital campaigns.

Working as a group to tight timescales, delegates will also be exposed to some of the theory and practices of agile working that will give an insight into the culture required to be a successful digital team.

Finally, the groups will feed back on their work to see if we really have produced the most awesome digital campaign the world has ever seen.

From this masterclass delegates will learn:

  • How to creatively build a digital campaign from scratch
  • How to work as a team in a very short time to agile working methodologies – so gaining insights into successful digital culture and working practices
  • How to plan a multi-faceted digitally-led campaign

If this all sounds good to you, then join us at IFC 2018!

Organisational health: are you getting your five a day?

Does anyone else struggle as much as I do to be healthy? To ensure you get those five a day in? To reduce sugar and fat intake, to drink enough water, do enough exercise, get enough sleep…and the list goes on. It can be hard to be healthy, right? We are constantly told that if we don’t do these things, our bodies could fail us, we could be faced with future issues, and worst case, lead us to an early demise.

The same applies to organisations.

Organisations need to be healthy, and if they aren’t, they can fail. Fail their customers, their employees and themselves. Organisations won’t struggle to succeed because their ideas are rubbish or they don’t have enough talented people, they’ll struggle because they aren’t healthy. They aren’t looking after themselves or their customers.

So what does being healthy actually mean?

I would describe a healthy organisation as one with an environment that is:

  • …Free of internal politics
  • …Has a low turnover of talent
  • …Customer centric
  • …Clear on their purpose
  • …Not working in silos
  • …Has an aligned leadership team
  • …is transparent

So how do we, as organisations, ensure we are doing what we can to be as healthy as possible? So that we can serve our customers and strive for the purpose in which we established ourselves in the first place. Below I am going to outline what I believe the key ‘five a day’ are that all organisations should have that will help work towards achieving the aforementioned healthy environment.

1. Purpose

Without purpose, we are merely performing seemingly meaningless tasks to no aim. And without purpose, how do we find motivation? Without motivation, how do we do a good job? And if we don’t do a good job, how does an organisation succeed? And so on…

Most senior leaders would say their organisation does have purpose, or perhaps you would call it your vision, and I would agree that they probably do. The key, however, is to ensure that purpose is felt by every single individual working within that organisation, from the CEO to the finance director to interns. Not only do organisations need to ensure purpose is known and felt, they have the responsibility to guide their teams to know how to act on it. How do they know if their day-to-day work is in line with that purpose?

2. Strategy and priorities

(OK, so this is two things but I needed to squeeze them in!)

Creating a strong and tangible strategy, and outlining the organisational priorities are how you guide your teams in knowing where they should focus. It is how they’re able to know how they play a part in contributing towards the purpose of the organisation. Again most organisations would say they have a strategy, but how transparent is that strategy? And how aligned is it to your purpose?

Your strategy should derive from your purpose, and your priorities should then derive from your strategy. Those prioritise should feed into every team for them to disseminate into objectives that can be measured and tied right back up to the organisation’s purpose.

3. Measurement

So you’ve defined your purpose, strategy and priorities, but how do you know if you’re achieving/have achieved them? In my experience measurement can be overlooked. People talk about objectives and goals, but what are the hard measures to know if they have been achieved and more so, been successful.

4. Team Design

We know there are certain things teams need to be successful. A successful team doesn’t happen by chance, or we certainly shouldn’t leave it to chance to see whether they succeed or not. To help teams navigate through the 5 stages of team development (forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning), we need to help them define tools to equip them in being the best they can be.

Like organisations, teams need to define their own micro-operating system. How do they get work done together? What do they expect of one another? What tools and routines are needed to make work ‘work’ for them? What’s their priority? How will they be measured? All these need defining and acknowledged at a team level for them to be armed in dealing with life as a team.

Setting aside time when new teams are setup to work create their operating system, and having regular time together to check into as the team develops is invaluable, and should be prioritised equal to getting work done.

5. Alignment

There is nothing more confusing than being told conflicting things in a given situation. Whether that be medical advice, car mechanic advice or what outfit looks best! I believe humans at their core crave simplicity and clarity and this transcends to the workplace too.

Leadership teams need to be aligned and consistent in their communication in the workplace. They also need to be aligned in their action. If leaders say one thing but do another, you can be sure that it’s the action that will be noticed more and replicated, especially if it’s at odds with what is being verbally communicated. Leaders need to practise what they preach.

Patrick Lencioni talks fantastically on organisational health as a whole in his book The Advantage, but specifically about the importance of a cohesive leadership team. Similarly to parenting advice, a cohesive, aligned ‘front’ leading the way ensures that there is clarity and consistency. As leaders, commit to backing one another up, even if you may disagree, disagree away from the front-line. Showing a lack of alignment at leadership level can cause employees to play leaders off one another – much like the split-up parent scenario – ‘but Mum said I could…’

Remove any cause for cracks to appear by sophisticating your leadership team decision making processes, and committing to living and breathing the decision made outside the boardroom, even if you were in opposition of the decision made.

So there’s a swift overview of my ‘five a day’ for keeping your organisation healthy. Hopefully they provide food for thought (no pun intended) and some ideas for where to focus if you feel your organisation could benefit from being a little healthier.

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If you feel your organisation could benefit from being a little healthier, whether that be in helping a team/s to define their own operating system to work better together, or to work with a leadership team to help build trust and cohesiveness, please contact us at contact@thinkds.org to discuss how we could support through building a tailored plan of workshops and coaching programmes.

Facebook’s News Feed Announcement: What does it mean for generating engagement?

Facebook has been under fire from several directions recently. Most prominently, the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election dragged Facebook into the mud through its dissemination of fake news and openness to advertising from all sorts of nefarious clients. Elsewhere, social media executives have been admitting that their services are designed to be addictive, and neither use them themselves nor allow their children to.

In response to this, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a widely-shared post stating how Facebook would be toning down the content from businesses and news organisations in favour of making personal and conversation-based content more visible. In other words, going back to what Facebook started out as – a social media platform.

This has raised some concerns in marketing circles. Will content reach and engagement be dragged down? Will businesses become more irrelevant on the platform? Where will all those deliciously high audience numbers go?

In many ways, however, the announcement just signifies more business-as-usual for Facebook.

  • Firstly, Facebook relies on its customers. Its value of over $500 billion is dependent on continuing to attract advertising revenue from marketers hungry to get a bite of the two billion plus users currently on the platform. There is no way that the platform will neglect its business clients.
  • Secondly, driving down reach rates for organisations’ organic posts is nothing new. Facebook has been doing it for years in an attempt to encourage businesses to spend more money on advertising.

What the announcement does reiterate, however, is that organisations need to be adaptable in the way they speak to customers. A few years ago Facebook was pushing video content as much as possible. Then came Live video. Now, it appears they want posts to encourage conversation. Therefore, adapting your marketing strategy to ensure you’re able to maximise Facebook’s focus is key to getting the best results.

Come and join us!

We’re looking for an experienced freelance digital project manager to help us on our mission to transform the world of non-profit digital engagement:

Role profile: Digital Project Manager

Contract type: Freelance

Contract length: Initially to end of 2018, with the possibility of this being extended

Hours: Ideally 1-2 days per week

Salary: Please submit day rate with application

Location: Home based

Accountable to: Strategy Director

 

About THINK Digital

THINK Digital helps to create and deliver transformational digital strategies and data-driven engagement campaigns for national and international non-profit causes. With a small core team and a wider team of experienced associates, we work in an agile, responsive and flexible way from across the UK and internationally in order to best meet our clients’ needs.

All of the team is home-based and work from both the UK and elsewhere. We have regular remote team meetings and face-to-face team meetings twice a year, usually in London or Bristol.

About the role

We are looking to take on a freelance Project Manager who can manage a large, year-long piece of work for an international client.

The role will involve being the main day-to-day contact person for the client and will involve managing the THINK team who work on the project.

Core deliverables over the course of the project include:

  • Producing a global digital fundraising strategy
  • Designing, building and hosting a global digital donation platform
  • Developing and delivering three digital-only fundraising and engagement campaigns
  • Building and managing an ongoing online donor engagement journey

As well as managing this project, there may be other projects which you would be asked to work on as well over the course of the year.

Responsibilities

  • Setting up projects, including briefing documents and timelines and agreeing these with the client
  • Briefing in the internal project team, including task setting and deadlines
  • Keeping the project running to time, ensuring that tasks are completed on time and to spec
  • Ensuring that the internal team has the information required from the client
  • Ensuring that the client knows of requirements from them and that these are gathered from the client and passed on to the internal team
  • Liaising with the client to keep them updated on project progress
  • Keeping the Strategy Director updated on project progress
  • Producing reports on results, sharing these with the Strategy Director and the client
  • Organising regular results calls with the client
  • Feeding back to the internal team on amendments required

Person specification

Essential:

  • At least two years’ experience of digital project management
  • Experience of using project management tools, such as Basecamp and Leankit
  • Ability to analyse data, especially in Google Analytics
  • Experience of report writing
  • Ability to manage a number of projects/tasks concurrently
  • Ability to manage people and their time in order to deliver tasks to spec and on time
  • Experience of liaising with clients in a timely and professional manner
  • Proficient in use of Microsoft Office products
  • Fluent in English

Desirable:

  • Experience of working in/for the non-profit sector
  • Knowledge of using Facebook Business Manager and mass marketing tools (ie Mailchimp)
  • Experience of using CMS
  • Educated to undergraduate level

Application details

Please send your CV and a covering letter, including your day rate, to Aroon Dougan (aroon@thinkds.org) by 5pm UK time on Friday 26 January 2018. Please feel free to email Aroon beforehand if you have any questions.

 

Making sense of Facebook’s placement tool

One of the more neglected elements when setting up a Facebook Ad Set in Power Editor is the Placement function. When configuring an Ad Set, it is easy to keep checked the Automatic placements setting – after all, this is the easiest option to take. The Edit placements option carries the warning that it “may reduce the number of people you reach and may make it less likely that you’ll meet your goals”.

It is natural that Facebook would want you to use automatic placements – after all, this places your adverts in more places, such as Instagram and other sister platforms. However, while using automatic placements will usually increase your reach, it will also likely drive down your engagement rates and cost per click.

For instance, while Instagram advertising is becoming more common and therefore palatable to Insta platform users, it generally produces far lower engagement rates than Facebook advertising. Instagrammers aren’t used to clicking on images that direct them away from the app – it’s not what Instagram was built for.

The same is true for other placement options. Few people look at the desktop Right Column in Facebook, and even fewer click on the ads there. Messenger, also, is only just starting to host advertising, so users will be unfamiliar with being marketed to through there.

There isn’t enough shared data to conclude which placements work best, and it will vary from organisation to organisation, and creative to creative. Testing out different creatives in different placements is always recommended, but if you’re working with a tight budget and short timescale, the best option is to go for Facebook-only placements, and stick to the simple Feeds option – the most visible and engaging advertising spots out there.

 

 

Facebook’s new fundraising tools: What to consider when using the new non-profit features

For several years, Facebook has been steadily turning itself from an individual-oriented social media platform into a business-oriented marketing machine. In pushing down organic reach and pulling up paid reach, making its advertising features more powerful and introducing Business Manager, it has been trying to entice more businesses to spend more money through the platform.

This is no different for non-profits – the potential reach and impact per dollar through Facebook far exceeds any other kind of current marketing tools, online or otherwise. Facebook, therefore, has been busy introducing new features for non-profits to use in order to maximise results.

Donate, Donate, Donate

The most obvious ‘new’ feature for non-profits is the Donate function. This has been extended to three areas.

1. In-page donation: Facebook has for a long time had a Donate button available for non-profits to use on their page, but in the past this just acted as a redirect to an external website – the non-profit’s own donation page. Now, supporters can donate without leaving Facebook – the Donate button can be added to a page or a post, and the user journey from sentiment to transaction is as short and smooth as possible.

2. Adverts Donate button: Facebook has expanded the scope for calls to action in Adverts Manager or Power Editor. Now, if a page is set up as a Non-Profit Organisation, a wide array of options for a call to action button have been opened up. Prime among these is the Donate button. This still just redirects users to the non- profit’s own landing page, but it makes for a clearer and more engaging call to action than the old Learn More button.

3. Live video fundraisers: Facebook has been pushing its live video function for a couple of years now – boosting the viewing figures to extreme levels, well beyond what the standard of the content actually deserves. Now, when non-profits are using live video, they can add a Donate button to the stream. This has so far been much under-utilised, requiring the kind of large digital team, technical know-how and forward planning that few non-profits have. However, the potential reach that live video has makes this an enticing option.

Don’t Get Distracted

It would be easy to get distracted by the new fancy charitable tools that Facebook is offering, and to rely too heavily on them to bring in results. However, the new Donate buttons are only as good as the campaign around them – there still needs to be strong messaging, imagery and other marketing components.

What also needs to be taken into consideration is the user journey. With the new in- Facebook Donate function, do you actually want to keep users within Facebook, or would you rather direct them to your own landing pages, with your own branding and response mechanism?

The answer to this is not straightforward. It can be cheaper and quicker to recruit leads or capture donations directly in Facebook, but without the opportunity to give the supporter more information about your cause, it can mean that they don’t go on to support you on a longer term basis.

One example of this is a lead generation campaign that we ran recently for a US environmental non-profit. It produced a lower cost per lead when signing people up within Facebook rather than directing them to the non-profit’s landing page. However, there was a higher conversion rate to donations from those that signed up through the non-profit’s landing page than those who signed up in Facebook.

As with all marketing, we would recommend testing approaches when activity begins and analysing which approach produces the KPIs you want to achieve. This can be frustrating when Facebook offers such quick wins, but this doesn’t always necessarily correlate with the best results long-term.

Creating an effective call to action

One of the most important aspects of a digital awareness or fundraising campaign is having an effective call to action. You might have the most worthy cause around, but without a top-notch call to action it will go unnoticed.

And just because you understand your organisation’s mission inside out, someone seeing a piece of content won’t. You need to get your message across as quickly and concisely as possible, ensuring that the person seeing it knows exactly what the issue is, and how they can do something quickly and easily, and most importantly – right then – to make a difference.

With Facebook advertising becoming more expensive, and email providers becoming more savvy at detecting anything even remotely spam-like, this is becoming ever more important.

When we’re starting to put together the creative for a campaign, we try to follow three key rules: be urgent; be concise; and have a clear cause and effect.

  1. Be urgent

An online campaign needs to have a sense of urgency. Why do supporters need to take action now? This urgency may need to be manufactured – a campaign to raise £30,000 in a month can instead be rephrased as needing to raise £3,000 today. For other campaigns, the urgency may be the natural focus-point of the campaign – emergency medical relief after a natural disaster, for instance.

  1. Be concise

Keep the call to action brief, definable and easy to understand. Use plain English and avoid the use of jargon. Tailor the language to the target audience. People are bombarded by different messaging all day long – you want your call to action to be as simple and eye-catching as possible.

E.g. Breast cancer can be devastating. But you can help.

  1. Have a clear cause and effect

The action that a supporter needs to take should be clear and simple. The effect of that action should be definite and measurable – a definite good will come of a simple action.

E.g. Donate £10 today to send a warm blanket to a cold refugee family.

These rules can – and should – be applied to any campaign, whether it’s emergency aid, lead generation or a long-running capital appeal.

Creating Winning Digital Campaigns – A ‘hothouse’ session at IFC 2017

As part of this year’s International Fundraising Conference, Derek Humphries from DTV and I led a ‘hothouse’ session on how to create winning digital campaigns.

We wanted to try something a little bit different from your usual conference fare, and so we decided to invite the attendees to create and present a complete digital campaign. Utilising the wider THINK Digital team – labouring away remotely from the UK – the groups put together campaign copy, imagery, landing pages, influencer outreach, and audience profiles – and all in just three hours – before presenting their campaigns back to the wider group.

We were really pleased with the results. Groups representing notional charities Disaster Response International, Enough For All, Orangutans Forever, and The Freedom Campaign respectively were able to pull together compelling, forward-thinking digital campaigns within the space of a few short hours.

  • Disaster Response International focused on an emergency which had just hit Costa Rica. They needed to raise money from around the world quickly in order to provide relief on the ground. They pulled in influencers such as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, and used Facebook profiling to target retired grandparents in the US and Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Enough For All produced a campaign focusing on Ramadan. Through Facebook advertising they targeted Muslim mums with young children and disposable income, and planned to bring on board influential activists such as Dr Basel Abuwarda and Refaat Esque.
  • Orangutans Forever centred their campaign on saving a piece of land to avoid Derek the Orangutan losing his home. They went beyond targeting influential naturalists and environmental activists, to try to reach more leftfield options, such as Planet of the Ape star Woody Harrelson. Through Facebook audience profiling they targeted wealthy outdoors-loving individuals – those into cycling and trekking, and those in professions such as banking and medicine.
  • The Freedom Campaign focused on Amal Clooney’s campaigning to free her cousin who had been wrongly imprisoned in Nigeria. Through Facebook advertising they targeted young activists in the US, Bernie Sanders fans, CND members and followers of the human rights movement. Their influencers included celebrities such as Adele and Madonna.

It was a fantastic experience creating these campaigns in such a short period of time. Beyond this, the session proved how effective international working can be – the remote THINK Digital team were able to put together the campaigns in real-time, making the ideas and imaginations of the session attendees a reality.

Watch this space for details of similar sessions at conferences next year.