#ThinkGood 2020: Decoding digital fundraising

The annual non-profit (NPO) sector event #ThinkGood, that so many in the non-profit (NPO) sector look forward to for free skills-sharing and learning, had a different look and feel this year, due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, non-profit practitioners enjoyed a great opportunity to learn all about the hot topic of digital fundraising.
Some 77 people took part in the online learning session run by Inyathelo. While the subject was new for many, a snapshot survey revealed that 47% had run a digital fundraising campaign in the past, with 6% having raised R10,000-R50,000; Some 2% had raised R100 000 or more!

#ThinkGood 2020: Decoding digital fundraising

Why is digital fundraising so important?

  • In the last two years there has been a 24% growth in online donations;
  • In 2018, mobile giving increased by 205%;
  • 65%+ of all fundraising site web traffic is on mobile platforms, and is growing each year;
  • 54% of consumers have used a mobile wallet to make a donation; and
  • 52% of millennials, who drive mobile traffic, are interested in monthly giving as a meaningful way to give back.

Inyathelo Executive Director Nazeema Mohamed explained that digital fundraising is part of a suite of fundraising strategies, falling under the fundraising tools banner, not stand-alone. Ideally, it should fit into an organisation’s resource mobilisation strategy and plan, which outlines the ways in which an organisation will generate resources for its long-term sustainability. Fundraising is a vital part of the 10 elements of Advancement, which is all about positioning your organisation for long-term sustainability.

Inyathelo Operations Director Feryal Domingo discussed how Inyathelo had learnt so much on this journey, touching on multiple aspects:

Conceptualisation: Firstly, staff carefully considered the problem that they wanted to address. They aimed to raise R50,000 within 40 days, for data for eligible NPOs to attend webinars and other learning events. “Learning platforms are not really free as you need data to access them”.

Much of this motivation was based on Inyathelo’s early experiences at the start of COVID-19, when they realised: “If you don’t have enough data and your bandwidth is not great, how are you going to stay connected?”

Teamwork: Feryal pointed out how, within your own team, there are unrecognised skills that can be polished and utilised. “We are immensely proud of the campaign that every single staff member (11 in all) participated in fully. Everyone’s skills set grew.  Remember to tap into your team.”

Timing: This was the first time that Inyathelo had worked on such a campaign, deciding the time was right to respond to the critical COVID-19 situation. Inyathelo had already launched a digital resource book in February 2019, and wanted the team to put new learnings into practice. The fact that Inyathelo was well-established and well-known, was also hugely helpful. Finally, there was time available under lockdown. “It was the right thing to do.”

Crowdfunding platform: A great amount of detail was researched, from registration to payment options. “It was important for us to understand how easy it is to make a donation.”

Communications plan: “We wanted to build an online media strategy and you need to make sure you are reaching the right audiences that will pay attention to your campaign. Things need to be as uncomplicated as possible.” Who you know, and calling on those people at an early stage to support your campaign, are important, as is appropriate branding and imaging. “The story needs to be compelling.”

Launch: “Rope everyone in, but don’t neglect the power of one-on-one communication.” Incorporating Instagram was one of the new things Inyathelo explored. The campaign relies a great deal on voice and visibility.

Continuity: Inyathelo plans to boost the campaign and freshen it up fortnightly. They have opted for the creation of video clips by supporters, with a standard operating procedure explained on the website.

Audience participation

Inyathelo Programme Officer Jocelyn Collins then highlighted questions raised by the participants.

  • Question 1: How do you measure campaign success? Feryal said that apart from raising funds, then issuing data vouchers, you could measure success by the difference it has made in NPOs that now have access. There are also other benefits such as the team having learnt new skills, and being able to share them widely.
  • Question 2: How was Inyathelo’s expenditure of R5000 allocated? It was spent to boost social media, to get more Facebook views, and also on developing the branding through a professional who also donated some of his time.

Nazeema then discussed some launch highlights.  “One of the most exciting things was the involvement of the Inyathelo staff,” she said, sharing their group video. Other champions lending their support include drama therapist Warren Nebe and his team of Healers, and journalist Karima Brown. Videos from supporters include a rap message from Gabriel Ally, and a video clip from Cara Loening, outlining how teachers of children in the deaf community are struggling without data.

“Digital fundraising is a lot of work and doesn’t come naturally,” concluded Feryal. “Very important – don’t spend more than you can raise.”

Learn more at no charge

Inyathelo is offering a free one hour clinic session for NPOs that would like to learn more about digital fundraising. Contact Hoeyaam Majiet at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..