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Make the Most of Technology to Increase Donations

by Bluestep Solutions

on 21st May 2019

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Bluestep Charity Account Manager and technology enthusiast, Sarann Buckby, takes a look at some of the latest innovations we're obsessed with.

From Alexa to contactless payment and even paying with contactless jewellery! Sarann gives her thoughts on how charities, in particular, can make the most of these technologies to engage with audiences and boost donations. Here are her pearls of wisdom...

“A recent report by Blackbaud Europe reveals that the public’s appetite for giving to UK charities through online and mobile increased by 5.5% over 2018, despite a decrease in donations overall. Technology continues to fundamentally change consumer behaviour across the board, whether it’s foregoing the high street to shop online (and now even within an Instagram Story) for the best possible deal, ditching coins and paying for parking on your phone or asking Alexa for an update on the weather and news.

As always this presents organisations, including charities, with opportunities to reach their audience in increasingly relevant and convenient ways. Here’s what’s making news when it comes to making online giving a cinch:

Donation stickers on Instagram Stories

With half a billion people engaging in Instagram Stories every day and user donations on Facebook exceeding $1 billion according to Facebook’s Q4 report announcement, it’s a no-brainer that Instagram recently released a donation sticker. It can be added to a Story allowing supporters to donate directly to the cause without leaving the platform. 100% of the money raised through the donation sticker goes to the charity.

The bad news? It’s only available in the US at the moment. The good news? The guys at Facebook Social Good say they’re working hard to bring it to more communities in the coming months. Until then, you can get creative with the new and improved camera design including Create Mode which allows users to share information without having to first take a photo or video. Also, take a cue from Forbes contributor Christ Strub and make sure your charity is prepped and ready for when the donation button lands. Some good tips include:

  1. Continue to invest time in creating Instagram Stories highlights (Stories that you can “pin” to your charity’s profile);
  2. Use the swipe-up functionality in Stories to direct your audience to longer-form IGTV content;
  3. Build relationships with influencers;
  4. Schedule Instagram Stories takeovers with some of them;
  5. Get creative with your hashtags and start building Instagram Stories content around these, using the hashtag stickers.

You can also continue to make the most of collecting donations though your Facebook Page donate buttons and ads with Donate call to actions.

It’s a good time to take a step back and think about how you can adapt your social media content strategy to personalise it more based on different user profiles journeys. Then have fun with the existing functionalities (like stickers within Instagram Stories) to engage people further within their journey.

Alexa gets charitable

Amazon’s Alexa is used to being asked things like, ‘Alexa, get me a beer’ to ‘Alexa, how do I boil an egg’. However, now you can say ‘Alexa, open British Heart Foundation and donate money’ or ‘Alexa, ask the British Heart Foundation to collect my furniture.’

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) were the first in the UK to adopt the Amazon Alexa skill which allows for donations using your Amazon Pay account, so you don’t have to enter any payment details for anything up to £250. The BHF reassures users that they can create a passcode to stop anyone else donating via your Alexa.

Other charities like NSPCC are using Alexa to enable voice donations and to help engage families in important awareness campaigns like Talk PANTS.

Voice search is here and growing and it will be an ever-important extension to your existing marketing strategy and campaigns.

Contactless donations

UK contactless spending increased by nearly a third in 2018 to a total of £69 billion, accounting for more than 40% of all card transactions. Payments UK research shows cash transactions are expected to decrease to only 15% of all transactions by 2025.

This is probably not new to most charities but does require an adapted strategy to explore the best technologies available and understand the associated costs and rewards.

The Natural History Museum and seen a rise of 64% in their donation income using eye-catching contactless fundraising boxes from Goodbox and Christian Aid Week will be trialling cashless donations with 500 of the company’s contactless payment units in churches across England and Wales.

Tap to donate…with your jewellery

Another associated trend are contactless wearables like bracelets, wristbands, watches and rings. People seem to love the convenience of ditching their cards and wallets for these more fashion-forward payment options. According to a ComputerWeek report, research done by Mastercard reveals that more than a quarter of UK shoppers are ready to make contactless payments using wearable devices.

The same article cites that the worldwide smart wearables market is expected to be worth $52.5bn by the end of 2024, compared with $16.2bn in 2016. With figures like that, contactless wearables could be a worthwhile and profitable addition to a charity’s online shop.

Easy does it

Technology is ultimately about making people’s lives easier and for charity communication and marketing professionals, innovations like the above make it easier to connect with their audiences in a way that fits seamlessly into their lives. When it comes to understanding your market and creating strategies and campaigns that resonate with them, getting to grips with how they want to donate is key to ensuring your charity remains top of mind.”


If you’re looking to develop merchandise, strategies and campaigns that inspire awareness, action and change with creative solutions that have a measurable impact, get in touch with Charity Account Manager, Sarann Bucky, by sending her an email or calling on 0844 576 0576.”

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