Briefing: Digital Income Generation

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1 Briefing: Digital Income Generation Context In order for community growing groups to survive and thrive in the current climate of austerity and limited grant funding, they need to look towards other models of gaining income. One of the ways groups can potentially raise money is through online or Digital Income Generation (DIG): exploiting websites, blogs and social media to engage with supporters and increase capacity to attract income. Using online methods means you can appeal to a broader range of people, engaging with potential supporters and donors outside of your immediate community. This may be of particular relevance if you are based in a deprived area where where money is tight and local people cannot afford to donate. It is also a way to attract interest from local businesses with the potential for corporate sponsorship and special discounts. However, DIG should not be seen as an easy option. You will need: Stories, activities, events, campaigns in other words things that can be presented as compelling online content to attract people to support you. Planning and preparation devoting some time to analyse what you can offer and what online media works best for you will pay dividends in the long run. Relevant online and social media skills you will need at least one person who has some technical knowledge and can generate interesting content and images. To be prepared to work in order to see results Ideally, something that you can sell online seeds, preserves, textiles etc To be open-minded about opportunities DIG may not be suitable in all cases, but it is definitely worth investigating.

2 Engagement, engagement, engagement This is the buzzword of online fundraising and means using your online presence to connect with people and businesses so that they are more likely to donate or support your work. By engaging with supporters they can both be a source of finance and act as ambassadors for your group to a wider group of potential supporters. The three key points of any DIG effort are: Keep things simple and understandable (eg if the aim of your group or the benefits are obscure, people will lose interest). Keep things visible (eg if you hide away your Donate button or don t remind people about your crowdfunding campaign, then it won t work) Tell stories so that people know why they should donate (people respond to narratives and it makes things easier to understand). Lastly, a commons sense approach is required don t try to do too much at once. The information here is intended as guidance, not instruction Growing Together is fully aware that each group has different needs and different capacity. However, this guidance should help you find out what you can do and what opportunities are available. Online donations These are not just the online equivalent of the collecting tin, they can be a sophisticated way of encourage people to engage with and support your organisation. Top tips to maximise online donations: Place donation buttons in highly visible area on your website. Have a separate donations page too. Make the donations button or area stand out, either through design or by ensuring the website is clean and simple and easy to navigate. Provide information on why people should donate. According to one study, the UK would contribute an extra 665m annually if they were told where their money was going and what the benefits were. Give options if your organisation is running several projects, then giving potential donors the option of supporting one of them means they are more likely to donate. Encourage regular donations you could set up a membership or supporter scheme with monthly or annual amounts paid. Identify the best tool for taking online donations see below for DIY or Third Party Ensure your donations are secure Don t forget to say thank you. Most donation tools allow you to return the donors to a thank you page, where you can express your gratitude.

3 DIY or Third Party Site? The DIY method involves creating, for example, a Paypal account for non-profit organisations (which has lower transaction rates than normal business accounts). This allows you to create a Donate button on your website (donors don t need a Paypal account to use this). Find out more at: non-profit Pros: Relatively simple to administer. No initial fee. Many people use Paypal. Cons: Paypal charge a percentage for each donation, you need some web admin skills to set it up. The alternative to DIY is a third party tool such as Local Giving, Just Giving or Virgin Money Giving. These tools are increasingly popular with charities as they provide many benefits over keeping your donation form onsite. Currently over a third of small charities total donations are now collected online through a third party tool showing how popular they ve become. Here you can draw donations via your own site and/or via the third party site itself, where you can create a page for your organization. Pros: Easy to set up. The transactional process is managed for you. Attracts people who want to support local charities. You have professional support and people working to find funders. These tools easily integrate with your social media. Cons: It s not free. Local giving, for example, costs 72 a year to join and they take a five percent fee from each donation. There are lots of charities on these sites competing for the money. Using your digital platform for other giving opportunities It s not just one-off donations or individuals that you can target with your online platforms. By ensuring that you work holistically across websites and social media, you can potentially target the following: Major donors: Donors who give large sums. Some organisations have the capacity to track and find such donors. Most small community groups will not. However, if you have a donations page there s nothing wrong with encouraging large donations by, for example, showing what larger sums could help you achieve and what the benefits to the community would be. Committed givers: Committed givers make regular gifts and are one of the most valuable elements of fundraising. Over a longer period, asking for committed support is likely to offer the best financial returns on any promotional activities. Local business: Businesses have a responsibility to support the communities in which they have an impact. There are clear mutual benefits to be gained from partnerships between community organisations and the private sector, in terms of promotion, public image and demonstrating support for their employees.

4 There are also benefits to employees for community involvement as fundraising activities offer employees skill development, team building opportunities and increased staff morale. Businesses can support local causes in a variety of ways, through offering or helping with: Products or services Land, skills or time (volunteering) Lending or giving of tools and equipment Promotions. More Information The Small Charities website has further useful information on online fundraising at: IT For Charities has a website with some useful links to online fundraising service providers, third party fundraising platforms and payment services providers at: & htm E-Commerce Most people now do at least some of their shopping online, which has opened up potential opportunities for small charities and community organisations. Buying a product from a charity offers an attractive alternative to donating to it. There is a sense of direct reward for the outlay and a charity purchase is increasingly seen as a good gift. Selling products also allows a charity to appeal to a broader market, and one that is not necessarily geographically close to the site, who may not consider donating. However, groups need to bear in mind that, like all income generation, an online shop is just like a real shop. It needs someone to monitor it, make sure orders are completed, deal with any customer issues and handle the financial aspects. Stock issues are also important. You have to ensure that you have enough to satisfy demand without creating so much you cannot sell it. Pricing is also a consideration as you will want to cover the costs of production and packaging, admin and posting. There is also work involved in setting the shop up online and ensuring it is refreshed and made attractive to browse - without appealing images and an easy to use buying and checkout system, people will simply go elsewhere. What to sell? You may already have products you sell on-site which can easily be sold online, and may wish to develop new lines. The following items are all examples of things being sold by FCFCG members:

5 Homemade preserves and/or pickles Honey Seeds Dried Chillis Handmade textiles Craft products, such as baskets or simple wooden toys Postcards and postcard books Christmas cards Gift vouchers You may also have items that you can only sell direct to visitors eg perishable produce, flowers, herbs and pot plants, eggs, manure etc. However don t pass up the opportunity to advertise these online, even if they can t be sold direct. How to sell? The DIY method If your group has the necessary IT skills, or you know a friendly web designer, you could create your own online shop. There are several ways of doing this you may want to use a plugin software designed specifically to work within your website. For example if your website is created in Wordpress, there are many free plugins which you can set up to work alongside your site, such as the 10 alternatives listed here: Third Party Software: Such as or where you set up a shop (much like you would a blog) to run alongside your website. These products are powerful and have a lot of features enabling you to track products, contact previous customers with offers, ordering and stocking reports and some may even work alongside your accounts software. Increasingly, shops are being designed to integrate with your social media. ebay An alternative to building an online shop is to develop an ebay store. More than 90% of charities selling online use ebay. Using ebay, a charity can again easily create an attractive and user friendly ecommerce shop that could be linked to their website. ebay has the advantage of being relatively easy to use, there is protection in the case of disputes and people are very familiar with it and find it easy to use. You would need to join with Paypal Giving Fund to open a charity ebay store. ebay also offers potential scope for other fundraising activity: Donations via other sellers. Anyone can give to your charity when they sell on ebay. Sellers can donate between 10% and 100% of each item s sale price to your charity. PayPal Giving Fund will collect the donation from the seller, claim Gift Aid (if eligible) and pass 100% the money on to you. Auctions. These tend to do well on ebay if you are able to auction the right kind of items. One money spinner could be getting local celebrities to donate or sign

6 items which can then be put into an auction. There is a potential audience of millions and they can drive awareness, attention and hopefully, raise a lot of money for your charity. Find out more about ebay and charities at: charities.html Other e-commerce opportunities TheGivingMachine is a social enterprise that inverts the traditional idea of the online shop for charities. Instead of selling their own goods, charities benefit from people buying from large retailers. So each time a shopper who has joined up with TheGivingMachine makes a purchase a sales commission is generated. 75 percent of this commission is turned into a free cash donation via retailers like Amazon, Play.com, John Lewis, ebay, Sainsbury s and Next. This cash donation is handed on to a charity (or charities) chosen by the shopper when they join TheGivingMachine. This is a potentially lucrative method, but obviously relies on the community group being able to encourage supporters/visitors/friends/family etc to sign up. More details at: Mobile Apps With the ongoing revolution in smartphone and tablet technology, Mobile Apps have become extremely popular. Apps are relatively small computer programmes created specifically for phones and tablets that can be downloaded from online stores. They are used for a variety of purposes calendars, personal organisers, entertainment, gaming, hobbies etc. Increasingly, charities, non-profit organisations and third-party fundraising platforms are using Mobile Apps as a potential way of spreading awareness and getting donations. For example, Just Giving (see allows fundraising via a text messaging app. Charities share a personalized text code, allowing people to donate directly via text message on any network. There are more innovative examples too, such as Charity Miles. This platform allows walkers, runners and cyclists raise money for a charity while they are exercising. This App using GPS tracking data to monitor how far the user has gone and then a small amount (calculated in pence per mile) is donated to a charity chosen from a list that is affiliated with Charity Miles. The design and functionality of fundraising apps has improved significantly in the past few years, even though the idea of generating income through them is still in the early stages. Many analysts believe as people s lives increasingly switch to mobile devices, Apps will become a dominant fundraising role in the future. Though it is probably too early and too expensive for most community groups to develop their own Apps, it is worth keeping tabs on the potential of third party fundraising platforms (see below) who have developed Apps that groups could take advantage of in the future.

7 Appeals A public appeal is a concentrated effort to persuade individuals and organisations to give money to a particular good cause. They work by attracting publicity and raising awareness of the need you are trying to meet. Appeals are usually for specific things - a new straw-bale eco classroom, a particular piece of equipment or supporting a particular scheme. Increasingly, small charities and community organisations are using crowdfunding (to raise cash) or crowdsourcing (to find non-monetary things like skills, volunteers, equipment etc) in place of appeals. Although the principles are broadly the same, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing harness the power of the internet and social media in order to achieve the target. There is a separate briefing sheet on crowdfunding available from the Growing Together Resources page at: Other online tools The following examples are all ideas which, like the Growing Together initiative, have been funded through the Innovation in Giving fund from Nesta, which aims to supports projects that get many more people involved in giving time, money, skills and resources to the causes they care about. Project Dirt: This is an online networking site a bit like a Mumsnet or Facebook that enables people and organisations to give their time, expertise and resources to local environmental projects. The site is useful for both discussing ideas and inspiration, including fundraising information, as well as an opportunity to become part of a cluster of local groups which may be attractive to corporate sponsors. Believe In: https://believein.org.uk/charities Believe In doesn t take a cut from donations, unlike some donations platforms. It may be suitable for larger organisations as it has a suite digital tools enables charities to build and connect with donor communities, track progress and run campaigns across their social networks. Apps for Good: Apps for Good is an acclaimed technology education programme that teaches young people how to build mobile and Facebook apps to solve real problems with the help of professional volunteers. Givey: Givey uses social technologies like sms and twitter to encourage people to support the causes they care about, track the impact they re having and connect with other people who also want to make a difference Guess2Give: Guess2Give is a world-first for fundraising that allows anyone taking part in an event to setup a sweepstake to raise money for charity. People can use it to fundraise for any event or occasion. For example, if you were running the London Marathon, you d ask friends to guess how long it would take. Each guess costs 3 with up to 2.50 (including Gift Aid) going to charity, and 50p going into a prize fund. The person who guesses closest to the actual marathon time wins the prize fund. This can be collected or the winner can choose to donate their winnings to charity.

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