Nonprofit News from 4imprint
Hitting a target audience with relevant and engaging communications is vital for building up a loyal customer base and, in the case of charities, a regular source of donations. But delivering well-targeted marketing depends on thoroughly understanding the people you’re trying to reach – and you can only get these insights if people share their data with you. Of course, in the wake of some high-profile data breaches, you could understand why many are reluctant to do so. The onus is therefore on your organisation to make donors and stakeholders feel more confident about sharing their data and for you to show them how they could benefit from doing so.

New research by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) suggests that charities are actually in a relatively strong position when compared with organisations in other sectors. Indeed, in the CIM’s list of the most trusted sectors when it comes to data management, not-for-profit, public sector and education (including charities) came in at a creditable fourth place, behind banking/financial services/insurance, healthcare/pharmaceuticals and professional and business services. But this ranking was achieved on the strength of just 14% of consumers saying they felt confident that Third Sector bodies looked after their data responsibly.

So it’s clear there is more work to do here if charities are to get people to open up about what makes them tick.

Let people know how and when their data will be used
Being clear on exactly what you plan to do with people’s personal information can offer valuable assurances. Indeed, their reluctance might not be down to security fears, but concerns you will share their information with others and they’ll be bombarded with irrelevant marketing. Saying straight out that this won’t happen could be enough to encourage people to be more open.

Show people the benefits of sharing data
Not everyone will understand how data collection can benefit them, so it’s down to you to help them see how it could work in their favour. CIM data shows that 61% of people receive promotional materials about a hobby or interest they don’t have, while 35% receive promotions and offers for places they don’t live in or visit. Sharing data facilitates more relevant and targeted content.

Another tangible benefit of data sharing might be more meaningful loyalty-based rewards. For instance, if you have a target audience interested in health and fitness, branded pedometers, cycling accessories or performance t-shirts could be great promotional gifts.

Put a digital strategy in place
According to a report by Skills Platform, 35% of charities that use technology to deliver services, fundraise and communicate don’t have a long-term plan in place, while 22% have devised a strategy but not yet implemented it. The organisation has created a free Charity Digital Toolkit to showcase best practice and help charities use digital platforms more effectively, outlining concepts such as mapping your audience, measuring success and the pros and cons of different marketing channels. Demonstrating good practice could significantly improve the lines of communication with your target audience and if they feel a tangible benefit from this, it could motivate them into sharing more details with you to drive even more targeted and relevant promotional material.

Keep up with the law
Charities must make sure they are familiar with both existing and incoming regulations regarding data management and rights. Data breaches can cause serious reputational damage and it’s important to take whatever steps you can to bolster your reputation as a safe and trusted pair of hands for current as well as potential donors.

Above all, show you respect the people you rely upon and be honest and accountable when it comes to using data. Charities rely on goodwill from the public alone and how you use data could be key to building and maintaining trust in your organisation.


Sources / Further Reading
Half of the UK public is bombarded with irrelevant marketing CIM
Free digital toolkit for charities launched
Civil Society
Charity Digital Skills Report
Skills Platfor