A dementia diagnosis at any age is devastating.

For younger people, diagnosis often takes longer, and imposes an added financial burden on their families if they are yet to retire. YoungDementia UK is the only national charity to specialise in supporting the needs of people with young onset dementia. Dementia is classified as being young onset if it’s diagnosed before the age of 65. 

In the last year, YoungDementia UK made some changes to their fundraising strategy which saw a shift in focus and a move away from direct community fundraising. Fortunately, this meant that they didn’t suffer from the cancellation of fundraising events during Covid-19 in the same way many charities did. However, they were still predicting a 33% drop in their voluntary income in the financial year 20/21. It was time to maximise the potential that digital fundraising presents.

The ‘Do More’ mentality

The team at Young Dementia UK recognised the urgency of the situation and understood the opportunity of digital. Together we set off on our charity digital fundraising sprint. The goal? In just one week YoungDementia UK would be armed with:

computer screen with the words 'do more'

  • Greater expertise in how to optimise digital fundraising activity
  • Quick, low cost wins, to produce immediate results 
  • Exposure to best practice in the sector, a long term strategy and targets, and more insight into their audiences
  • A clear set of mid-term recommendations to potentially invest in, plus steps to consider beyond the COVID crisis

But what does a week-long, remote digital fundraising sprint look like in reality? And how can charities learn from YoungDementia UK’s flexibility and proactivity?

Five days for change:

Taking stock

At the start of the sprint, we need to understand where we all stand. Where is YoungDementia UK currently at with digital fundraising, and importantly, what ambitions are in play? A diagnostic workshop with the team was our first step to understanding this. Although this is a foundational step to the sprint, it is essential and provides valuable insight and organisational context which we repeatedly referred back to, throughout the week. Skipping this step is not an option.

Donor data

Over the next two days, we analysed the charity’s fundraising data, website and social media channels extracting trends and opportunities. Whilst stats are great, charities are about people. To support this quantitative data, we conducted user testing with members of their potential donor audience, giving us insight into their experience of YoungDementia UK’s current online donation journey. This affirmed what works well and where the user experience needs improvements. 

Taking inspiration

Stage four of the sprint called for sector inspiration. This is where an abundance of experiences and knowledge in the charity sector is drawn upon through our digital partners. Understanding and appreciating best practice examples for online charity campaigns and donor journeys helps to provide a new perspective on how things could be done in the future at YoungDementia UK. 

Put it all together

Finally, we built a comprehensive report detailing our findings and recommendations. But we don’t leave all the planning to an already overstretched charity; we included a 12 month roadmap of when and how to implement new tactics and recommendations.

wooden sign saying workshops
woman in face covering on phone
computer screens showing graphs

“The team at Reason were a pleasure to work with and the outcome was a clear, practical action plan that accurately reflected our reality and needs.”

Alison Williams, YoungDementia UK

A sneak peek into recommendations

YoungDementia UK kindly agreed to share with the rest of the sector, three of the nine recommendations provided in their digital fundraising roadmap. These may or may not be relevant to your charity – but either way they could inspire analysis of your own donation journey, messaging or audiences from a new viewpoint, encouraging positive change. 

Optimise the right donation journey

When digging deeper into YoungDementia UK’s data and analytics, we saw that online In Memoriam donations in the 7 months of 2020 already matched the total In Memoriam donations received in 2019. This represented an opportunity to improve that online donation experience, benefitting both the user and the charity. Optimising the user experience for In Memoriam donations gives YoungDementia UK an improved chance of turning a one-off donation into a committed supporter.

It is worth asking ourselves, as the third sector – is this a trend that has been driven by the effects of Covid-19? Is it potentially being replicated across the charity sector?

Keep it short and sincere on social

Some charities feel a sense of awkwardness when asking people to donate on social media, but it’s so important that your supporters recognise your need for help and they have a clear understanding of how they can do their bit. 

Take your ask one step further and show a supporter what their donation means in tangible terms. Explain succinctly but clearly, the impact that a potential supporter’s donation could have for your charity, and build confidence in their decision to donate. 

Running more regular, short campaigns on social media using relevant, evergreen content with optimised messaging and authenticity behind your vulnerability has a big impact. 

person running up stairs

Empower supporters

In a year like 2020, there are limited resources within charity teams to support fundraising activities and with YoungDementia UK, things were no different.

Without a large team to support community fundraising, supporter-led fundraising can provide a great alternative. Packaging up a few types of fundraisers (based on your supporter-base and demographic) whilst providing clear, simple guidance on how to make them a success, is an easy way to encourage your supporters to do the hard work for you.

Consider this tactic in the same way you would consider your donation journey. A donor journey must be simple, inspire action and ultimately provide clear instructions on how to transfer funds. Apply this to a community of supporters who care about your cause and you’re on the right path to empowerment. 

“I found it fascinating and eye-opening to work with YoungDementia UK. I learnt more about the devastating impact of getting a dementia diagnosis earlier in your life and therefore the importance of their role in society. It’s great to get the chance to embed yourself into a charity for a week and find creative ways to support their goals and increase donations.”

Lucy Bushby, Digital Partner

What digital potential are you waiting to unlock?

Charities are experiencing one of the most challenging economic and social environments that they will have ever had to operate in. Exacerbated by increased demand for charity services, it’s likely that every charity is experiencing the same or similar pains; shops closed down, events cancelled, a community in lockdown. A common tool that can help to pull charities above the surface, and even propel them into a new way of helping people, is digital.

Whilst we experience challenges in common, each organisation’s journey and experience of a digital fundraising sprint will be unique; Unique to your users, your audience and your brand. Speak to us today to learn how you can unlock new potential online with our digital fundraising sprint.

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