This article is part of the series, "A detailed Guide to Digital Fundraising". Read the Table of Contents for a full list of articles.
This series is an overview of the steps required to manage digital fundraising activities. We will split the series into three core areas, covering investment management, charities and investor relations for listed business. The fundamental principles are the same, whether you are looking for retail investors, intermediaries, institutions or for more donations. If you are looking to fundraise or find new investors you need to do four things well:
- Put a plan + structure in place
- Produce relevant + engaging content
- Distribute your content directly to the right people
- Measure + benchmark the impact
There will be 14 chapters within this series focusing on these four areas. We will look at how to create an online ecosystem for digital fundraising to suit any organisation. Many companies will already be doing some of these steps, some may be doing all of them, but they can always be improved. This is not theory, these are functional and practical steps that make the boat go faster and generate measured returns. The key is to create systems and processes that are sustainable and work for you, your priorities and your organisation. This guide will show you how to implement a plan to achieve this.
1.1 “Direct to Investor”
2019 is the first year digital advertising has beaten print and television in the US. Companies like Facebook and Google have overtaken TV and newspapers in terms of advertising spend.
Companies often talk about “digital transformation” and going “direct to consumer”. When large companies fail, it is often because they have not embraced digital effectively and have been leapfrogged by smaller more nimble businesses. Just as there is a trend towards going direct to consumer, the same idea applies to fundraising organisations who can now go “direct to investor”.
But first we shall start with the basic questions. What is digital fundraising, and why is it important?
1.2 Digital Fundraising
Digital fundraising is the process of using digital channels to raise capital, funding or donations online. Some of these transactions can be entirely facilitated online compared to others that may require more time to develop and close. A regular £52 monthly investment can be easily set up and managed online, whereas securing millions of pounds from a sovereign wealth fund is likely to take a little more time and effort. Typically, the larger the amount the more personal relationships are required, for these larger types of investments, LPs or grants, digital fundraising looks to attract and broker new connections for you to pursue and manage.
Irrespective of the amounts being raised, the process requires using content on digital channels to attract and convert new funders, prospects and connections. This can be done across several channels including social media, search and display as well as your website. Content can be created in all kinds of ways to drive engagement, but there should also be a great amount of importance and focus put on managing user experiences and user journeys to help drive the maximum conversion rates. All of these things combine to create an ecosystem that is important to create, manage and tweak as it evolves and grows.
1.3 Why is it important?
Digital fundraising is important because every investment opportunity is different. If you are looking to find people to match a specific investor profile you can be most precise in pinpointing them through digital channels. Digital enables you to cover more ground more quickly, rank your prospects and supplements any traditional offline activities you may be involved in.
By going digital first everything becomes a virtuous circle, if you set things up correctly you can invest more confidently in growth online, the more you create content that performs well, the more influence and authority you are building for the future around the topics and keywords that matter most to you. It also gives you a critical platform to build fundraising audiences and networks and manage communications to bring your investors,advisers and donors together and get them closer to your organisation. In short, if you are not focused on expanding your networks online, your networks will shrink.
Traditional channels like broadcast and print advertising throw the net too wide and are now considered to be too expensive and difficult to measure. Digital marketing channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google Ads offer much cheaper and more refined targeting opportunities for businesses. The different measurements like CPC, CPA and CPV allow you to have control over how much you spend and only pay for those who have engaged with your content. With digital marketing, you can create more sophisticated messages tailored to specific audiences thus driving higher engagement. If your addressable market is just 30 companies/people, you can centre your digital marketing activities around this group and speak directly to them. There is no point in creating campaigns that accommodate for the lowest common denominator, by dumbing down your content to make it more generic and simple you can risk alienating the more sophisticated investors that may actually be your primary targets. It’s important to map out your audiences and personas so you can start to see the differences in how they can be approached and managed.
It’s time to start looking at how to start planning your digital fundraising activities.
This series is created by 52 Group. 52 has three divisions focused on helping investment management firms, charities and listed businesses raise and deploy capital. If you would like to receive future articles from 52, please sign up to our “Raise + Deploy” news.