Earlier this month, Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe, urged Australian businesses to be brave and “seize the opportunities” of the digital transformation of the Australian economy to encourage a “rapid rebound” from the COVID-recession. 

The RBA governor noted the accelerated shift to a more digital economy “is prompting firms to innovate and to find new ways of doing things,” and that there would be rewards for firms that could adapt to the new reality. 

The Australian fundraising family has known this wave of digital change is coming for some time. Certain organisations have resisted the onward march of digital to their detriment – but the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced even the most traditional and conservative businesses to rethink their strategy. 

As Australians retreated into the newnormal of social distancing, working from home, borderclosures and lockdowns earlier this year, those who specialise in the creation and interpretation of data seized the opportunity to continue to modernise the industry. 

One such company on the cutting edge of these developments is Brisbane-based agency Fansdonate. 

With its roots in the dot-com boom of the late-1990s, the founders of Fansdonate were specialising in the combined use of data and social media long before Facebook was imagined and created. 

Not only have conversation rates remained consistent through this period but the retention of donors through the Fansdonate model is proving world-class with over 90% of this year’s donors remaining committed as regular givers.

Fansdonate’s Stephen Thirgood took learningfrom that embryonic and rapid period of internet and social media growth and has applied them to commercial settings, most recently the fundraising industry in Australia and New Zealand. 

“Our philosophy is very simple. Our job is to engage and educate. We identify online communities and individuals whose preferences indicate they would naturally have an interest in the charity of choice. Over timewe ask questions designed to drill down into their core values and ready them to take the decision to make monthly donations to the targetcharity. 

“Clearly, the pandemic created unique circumstances across Australasia where face-to-face fundraising typically conducted on city-centre street corners was no longer possible. 

“The move to intelligent digital interaction was always going to happen but the pandemic has accelerated this long-term change.  

Fansdonate believes that the trend to digital will be permanent within the industry.” 

Since the pandemic began, Fansdonate has seen a 400% increase in the number of charitable clients who recognise that data acquisition and digital expertise is key to the successful conversion of potential donors. 

The agency has increased its output from 50K leads in 2018 to an impressive 280K leads in 2020 – and counting. 

One charity that recognised this trend and was an early adopter of the Fansdonate philosophy was Bush Heritage Australia, which has been a client of Fansdonate since late 2018.  

Bush Heritage Australia is an independent not-for-profit that buys and manages land in partnership with Aboriginal peopleto conserve and protect Australia’s native species.  

Bush Heritage Australia’s Regular Giving Coordinator, Matt Small, explained that over the past two years, Bush Heritage and Fansdonate have focused on the donor journey from social media campaign pledge to becoming a regular monthly supporter.  

“Since beginning our partnership in October 2018, Fansdonate has generated over 2,500 regular givers for Bush Heritage. Their engaging and emotive social media ads have consistently cut through to our target audience across multiple campaigns, and their websites and communications have helped ensure excellent conversion and retention through online and phone channels,” Matt said. 

Barnardos Australia enlisted Fansdonate’s assistance during the pandemic. Barnardos Australia supports vulnerable children to recover from abuse and neglect, to ensure they reach their brightest future. 

Adnan Shahzad, Barnados Australia’s Senior Digital Growth Manager, said: “The pandemic created a new set of pressures within Australian society that required our charity to increase our protection of vulnerable Australian children and their families.  

“We needed to move quickly onto digital platforms to enlist the wider Australian public to make regular donations to support our critical services. Fansdonate had the expertise and the people to deliver tangible outcomes for Barnardos Australia.” 

As a result of this positive campaigning, Barnados New Zealand are now partnering Fansdonate to navigate the same issues across the ditch. 

“We’re delighted that so many charities have recognised that Fansdonate can make a real difference to their organisation during 2020, which has been challenging year for everyone,” Fansdonate’s Stephen Thirgood said. 

Not only have conversation rates remained consistent through this period but the retention of donors through the Fansdonate model is proving world-class with over 90% of this year’s donors remaining committed as regular givers. 

“We’ll be here for the long-term for our charitable partners because when the vaccines come and society returns to some level of normality next year, digital will be further embedded as the tool of the future for Australians of all ages – and that is both an opportunity and a challenge for all fundraising bodies,” Stephen added. 

For me information about Fansdonate, visit the website.