How to improve your charity's digital fundraising

How to improve your charity's digital fundraising

Guest Bloggers | 28 July 2017

With many charities still struggling to grow their digital know-how, Rebecca Curtis-Moss and Ross McCulloch look at some examples of great digital fundraising.

According to the Charity Digital Skills Report, three quarters of charities in the UK think that growing their digital skills would help them increase their income. Whilst there's a clear acknowledgement by charities that this is an area that could be financially lucrative, digital skills in our sector remain worryingly low. Here are a couple of our favourite digital fundraising campaigns, and our key takeaways.


With a simple Twitter poll, Fundraising Consultant John Thompson kicked off one of the biggest - and my personal favourite - digital fundraising campaigns of 2016. The premise of #FirstFiver was simple: give the first polymer £5 note you receive to charity. Charities quickly picked up on the idea, coining (pun fully intended) and very much championing the #FirstFiver hashtag.

First Fiver Tweet

Whilst charities newsjacking hashtags is no new concept, what made #FirstFiver so successful was its simplicity; it's low cost (for both charities and donors); and the novelty factor. All it took for charities to get involved was a Twitter account! This accessibility saw a lot of small charities get involved in the campaign, which was fantastic to see. According to Charities Aid Foundation, this hashtag has raised over £12.5 million for charities, and - nine months on - is *still* going! It's also sparked copycat campaigns, like #PoundForPound. It's not gone viral yet, but it'll be interesting to see if it gains more traction in the coming months, particularly as we near October, when the old pound coin ceases to be legal tender. Certainly one to watch!  


Ally was just thirteen years old when he lost Adam to blood cancer in March last year. Devastated by the loss, Ally decided that he wanted to do something that would help raise awareness of and funds for a blood cancer charity. A lifelong tube-enthusiast, Ally decided to visit all 270 London Underground stations in just twenty-four hours, in what he called a ‘Tube Challenge’.

Where's Ally

Ally made sure that his story was told on his Just Giving page, and on social media. Granted; the teenager had help from his family, but the point is that he told his story, and in his own words. Ally and his family shared regular updates on the day of the challenge, and even made a hashtag for the event, #WheresAlly.

They also used Thunderclap to raise awareness and generate buzz in advance of the event, and on the big day itself. Ally wore a t shirt prominently displaying his text donation code on the day of the challenge, which he also wore on all media appearances. He even featured an image of the code on his Thunderclap homepage (pictured below). His text code was also featured in newspaper articles, making it really easy for people to donate in real-time. This clearly paid off, with Bloodwise’s Insight and Analysis Manager Owen Bowden saying:

‘We could see traffic to the website spike when Ally was featured on the news. The only other time we’ve seen spikes like that have been driven by celebrities tweeting, or when The Calendar Girls film is screened on TV. As well as over £35,000 raised through Ally’s Just Giving page, we saw an increase in the number of donations through our website for the period of coverage; in fact, we received the highest number of donations in a single day for this year!’


Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support’s ground breaking Game Heroes campaign returned for 2017, having raised over £400,000 last year. The premise is incredibly simple - people take on a 24-hour gaming marathon and ask friends and family for sponsorship. You can do it as an individual or as part of a team - it was the latter which really drove some impressive fundraising efforts from gamers.

The campaign saw Macmillan make use of a Twitch channel for the first time - connecting with the gaming community and encouraging people to livestream their 24-hour challenges. Macmillan went to where their audience was, rather than expecting gamers to only engage with them on their existing social media channels.

Gamification was, obviously, a key part of the campaign - various goals and challenges were set by Macmillan for gamers via their Twitch channel to keep things interesting. The charity also teamed up with corporate partners to offer a free prize draw within the chat box on their Twitch channel. A key lesson here is Macmillan really took time to understand and respect the online gaming community.

Suzie Yarroll, Senior Fundraising Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, is excited about the impact of Game Heroes, which goes beyond the money raised:

“Game Heroes has been instrumental in engaging a new audience of predominately young males that Macmillan was previously unable to reach. This not only offers the opportunity to begin to establish a relationship with this group, but also to raise awareness of Macmillan’s services and how they might get support should they need it, so the impact is much wider reaching than simply generating donations for the charity.”



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