CDE project 17 sec­tion 4.2: the game is dif­fer­ent now

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 15, 2017

On 18 March 2014, around 8.30pm, someone in the social media team at Cancer Research UK spotted a number of people posting selfies to raise cancer awareness using the hashtag #NoMakeUpSelfie. Not only did she notice the trend, but she felt empowered to react and did so very quickly. 

Then by 9am the next morning, her team had discussed it and secured organisational buy-in to respond to the opportunity. They posted a selfie of Dr Kat Arney, a science information officer at CRUK, holding a sign that said ‘We love your #NoMakeUpSelfie’ and included a text code for donations.  Two weeks later, £10 million had been raised for CRUK by people posting #nomakeupselfies. It was not luck that enabled CRUK to both spot and respond so quickly to this opportunity. It required a way of working that expects opportunities and threats to be fast and unpredictable.

The challenge is that the world in the 21st century is fundamentally different to the 20th century. Changes in technology have had a huge impact on the environment in which charities now operate.

If one of your fundraisers has a meeting at 9.30am tomorrow, it is quite possible that the tone of the meeting could be influenced by a news story or rumour on social media that breaks at breakfast time. This might not only reduce the chances of the donor having a great meeting, it could equally be an opportunity for your colleague to improve it. Either way, will your colleague know about the issues and feel empowered to respond? 

While some companies are still moving slowly, to compete in the modern age, many have learned to become incredibly agile. As such, they have higher expectations than ever for the speed at which a potential charity partner would need to take action.

Howard Lake from UK Fundraising explained that ‘not only is there now a twenty-four hour news culture, there is also a virality of the way news is shared. That means that a story that may or may not be grounded in truth, can now be shared and potentially misinterpreted more quickly than ever before.’ 

It’s not just about speed; events are now more interdependent, less predictable. This summer, our friend Mary was able to visit museums more often than in recent years because her two children were happy to tag along and search those exhibition spaces for virtual characters as part of their new Pokémon Go obsession. At a business seminar last year, a technology expert told us that developments in virtual reality were on the way, but could anyone have predicted that this would mean more nine-year-old boys would visit museums in the summer holidays? What an opportunity if you are a museum that is ready to respond.

Driven by technology, events are becoming both faster and less predictable. To create great donor experiences, it’s more important than ever that leaders in charities create adaptable, responsive cultures.

Click on the image below to see project 17 in full - in PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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