Digital technology has transformed almost every sector worldwide, but can often pass by not-for-profit organisations. There are several reasons for this, whether it be lack of expertise, resource and time, or access to the tools required to really make an impact.
Furthermore, there’s lots of pressure on fundraising, so it’s hard to justify using any of that crucial revenue on digital communications.
What many people in the third sector don’t realise is that a wide range of free tools and software is available to maintain a very visible social media and online presence, while saving time and precious donor money.
At the Bishop Simeon Trust, we have one member of staff managing all communications, who also spends half of their time on fundraising. This is not uncommon in small organisations where it’s recognised that time must be used extremely efficiently.
So what tools and software are out there and how can those working in the third sector make the most of them to ensure they are running impactful and successful campaigns?
TweetDeck it is a free application that enables users to set up relevant search, user-activity and notification columns, linked to specified Twitter accounts. For the Bishop Simeon Trust, having the user activity of our partner organisation Themba Interactive, which is based in South Africa, as an easily viewable column, retweets are easily facilitated without having to search through a home feed.
The platform also has a schedule facility, which means that you can plan tweets for the future. This is handy for people working part-time or covering annual leave. This option allows workers to dedicate one individual session to social media scheduling rather than having to do this on a daily basis, which could be inefficient or impossible.
There are other applications, such as Hootsuite, where numerous social media channels can be managed simultaneously, but I prefer to separate Twitter to keep it focused.
Sharing images of projects across social platforms is a quick, easy win for increased engagement. If the organisation has people working in the field, they should be encouraged to take regular photos on phones of everyday activity because this will be interesting enough for audiences in a different environment.
At the Bishop Simeon Trust, for example, sharing images, comic strips or films created by the young people working on a project in South Africa is always popular with followers on Twitter and Facebook. Supporters of the charity like to see where their money is going. Canva is also great plaform to use when presenting statistics.
Increasing the number of website hits can be a free and fast way to get more people reading content and making donations to any given charity. Maximising free online resources and trainings, using something such as Google Digital Garage, is a good way to make a small budget go further.
Improving search-engine optimisation is a free and effective use of time, and many charity organisations can also apply for a Google Ad Grant to improve website hits: if set up well, this works for itself with limited management to bring more supporters to your pages.
Remember, a small budget doesn’t mean you can’t think big – it just means you have to be more creative with what you do have and the tools available.
Tegan Jones is fundraising and communications officer at the Bishop Simeon Trust