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1) Hi there I'm Rob Mansfield – and I’m here with a bit of a case study I'm going to talk to you about how Age UK revolutionised its approach to the way we approach online donation, specfically for one of our annual campaigns – Spread the Warmth.
What is Spread the Warmth? It's Age UK's annual winter campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the needless deaths of 24,000 older people every year, because of cold weather and encouraging people to support us and help vulnerable people in later life.
2012/3 is the 3rd year we've run this campaign and, although previous years had been relatively successful overall, we'd never cracked it on the web Why? Well, we've tried to be too clever – we produced Lionel's Wheel of Warmth in our first year, encouraging people to spin and get a random act of kindness to carry out,.
Or else we created free Xmas cards and xmas cracker jokes to get people to send, without explicitly asking for money till the end. It didn’t really work.
And we tried to be too many things to too many people – our campaign covers donate a coat Information and advice Charity singles and Christmas concerts Special gas and electricity deals with our energy partner A special day called Bobble Day Our reducing winter deaths campaign I’m sure you understand...
So what changed this year? 1) Well, although the charity still carried out lots of different activities, we decided to make the digital offering very one-track. We made it all about donating and focussed the majority of our effort into that one large, yet simple ask. (There was also a secondary action, which was to encourage people to download our Winter information and advice guide, another of our measures of success.)
2) We designed a completely new hub with new templates, removing the top and left-hand navigation, and one that carried an explicit donation ask at the top of the page and at the top of the right-hand column, along with donate widgets that could be dropped into every page.
3) We set aside a portion of our budget to create a high-quality video with an emotional heartstring-tugging story at its core and we featured it front and centre of the hub.
4) We redesigned our Donation page to show tangible benefits, depending on the amount donated. This was a big deal – 'shopping lists', as they're known in the charity world are nothing new, but at Age UK we'd never been as explicit as this. It really seemed to resonate.
5) We used a blog format to decided to highlight fresh, regular content – highlighting stories from people within the organisation and people helped by Spread the Warmth. Each story always had a donation CTA at the end – emphasising that without your money, we can't carry out this work.
And did it work? Well, yes. If we're talking in specific terms of money raised. As you can see, the increase in donations has been a whopping 900% - and even if we overlook the relatively low total from the previous campaign, we’re happy to have managed to boost donations to such an extent.
And the average amount per donor has increased substantially, too. What this has done has proved to the rest of the organisation that online donation through our website is a viable option, where it had been previously ignored and dismissed.
I'm not going to pretend it was a complete success. One of the things I was most keen to do was source content from around the organisation to populate the blog – we have 170 local Age UKs, within the Age UK network. We contacted a number of them to see if we could come and visit them and show off local successes and case studies, but only had a bite from a handful, which meant we had to be a lot more creative with our cvontent sourcing than I’d originally expected.
What did I learn? None of this was useful, unless we actually thought about what we’d learned from the whole process. For me, I suppose there were 5 key take outs from this year’s campaign, which we’ll use to build on next year.
1. Wow, doesn’t that look and sound obvious BUT so many people fail to define their overall objectives before they start. And, in fact, it’s something that we did previously – failing to be focussed - and thus not really doing anything particularly well. We knew from the outset that we wanted to drive online donations above everything else, so it was easy for us to focus our effort, both in terms of the early design/UX process and then once the section was live with the actual direction and tone of the content.
2. Ditch the rules We also decided that the ‘furniture’ of the site was a barrier to donation, so – as I touched on earlier - we got rid of practically all our regular navigation to make the offering less cluttered. By breaking away from our regular closed thinking, we produced something that achieved far and away more than we ever imagined.
3. Stick to your guns – Throughout the 3 months, we had people asking us to promote this, or flag up that. We pushed back a lot of times and only featured something if it contributed to the end goal. Foortunately, we were able to collate statistics around level of donation as we went along, so this gave us added weight, when it came to proving that what we were doing early. We kept a running tally on our donations, which proved very early on that we were succeeding.
4. Don't overstretch yourself Early on, I remember having grand plans about getting various external networks involved, as well as garnering a lot of support via social and developing relevant functionality to do so. But then we stopped and realised the core audience that donates (45+) already comes to the site and are the most likely to donate. That freed us up to concentrate purely on this one project. Obviously, we still leveraged our Facebook and Twitter audiences, but we didn’t spend needless money, time and resource on developing something that would have minimal impact and cut-through
5. Communicate your successes early As I mentioned earlier, we knew pretty early on that our decision to go the way we had was the right one. We were able to collate figures and tell key stakeholders that the campaign was successful. This enabled us to continue doing what we did, with a lot less interference from outside.
So, where next? Well, the design concept behind the hub has meant that we can use it again elsewhere. It also gives us a solid foundation for when we re-ignite the campaign towards the end of 2013. Previously, we’ve felt the need to reinvent the wheel each time, which has cost us money and time. What we’ve achieved and learned means we can start earlier on the bits that didn’t go so well – for example, sourcing of content. It’s a hugely satisfying feeling, though
Lightning talk - London Content Strategy Meet Up: Feb 2013
How Age UK changed its online donation cultureBy Rob Mansfield