Rob Weisz: Charities and the quiet revolution in digital

Charities are now the largest market for phone-paid payments, writes the chief executive of Fonix

Rob Weisz
Rob Weisz

Over the past 18 months, the charity sector has been on the receiving end of a barrage of negative headlines, mainly as a result of its heavy-handed fundraising techniques, which in some cases have bordered on harassment.

As the sector begins to get its house in order once again, behind all the media furore a quiet revolution has been taking place, one that has recently seen charity donations become the largest market for phone-paid payments.

These are the findings of the latest annual review from the mobile payments regulator PhonepayPlus and the analyst house Mobilesquared, but just how has the charity sector managed to become the doyen of the payment market?

As the report highlights, the phone-paid payments market is increasingly driven by mobile, which has become an important channel for fundraising and donor engagement. It’s not surprising that charity revenues are impressive when you consider that Children in Need alone generated £6.6m through mobile in 2015. However, the fact that charity is now the leading phone-paid payments market is down to more than just a volume play.

Charities getting more intelligent

Charities are becoming more and more sophisticated in their use of mobile. Donating by text has been available for many years now, but charities are increasingly focusing on what happens beyond the point of donation, using data to foster deeper engagement and increase donations.

Because of the new legislation brought in to curb chuggers, alongside calls on charities to change their approach to fundraising, charities have been taking a very careful approach with mobile as they try to restore consumer trust.

This is being achieved mainly through a better understanding of their audience, afforded by the availability of consumer data. This has enabled charities to develop more sophisticated segmentation and communication techniques.

This gradual shift to more intelligent targeting has coincided with a surge in the average value of mobile donations in the past 12 months, from £5 to £10. This is clear evidence of growing trust in mobile donations, but the big win for charities lies in mobile CRM.

Charities and mobile

It’s clear from the review that mobile has become a hugely valuable channel for the charity sector in terms of revenue, but it’s the opportunity the channel offers in terms of more intelligent fundraising and donor engagement strategies that is where the charity sector is beginning to score points.

We know consumers don’t want to speak directly to charities any more for fear that they might get the hard sell, so it’s down to the charities to engage with consumers in way that’s both personal and engaging.

In fact, with the review reporting the continued decline of revenues from voice-based services the lesson for charities is clear – talk is cheap.

Rob Weisz is chief executive of Fonix

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