Awesome digital channels for donor acquisition and retention


Digital is becoming increasingly central to the way many charities, and their supporters, operate.

But for many charity people, ‘digital’ can be a daunting concept, bringing to mind nonsensical jargon and complex new systems to learn.

The recent charity digital skills report from Third Sector and Skills Platform is proof that many charities are struggling.

Even when you do have a basic understanding, it can still be difficult to know which digital channels to use. These acquisition and retention tools should get you started.

Acquisition tools to help you reach new supporters

Looking to bring people to your charity, either as campaigners, donors or even service users? Try these channels.


SEO is all about making your website visible in the billions of web searches happening daily, so that you can reach the people you need to reach, organically.

A large part of SEO is content – good quality, relevant and interesting articles on your website. Have a look through your website – would your target audience want to read it all? If so, you’re more likely to acquire people through SEO.
The British Heart Foundation website


With a Google Grant, your charity can get $10,000 worth of free Google PPC ads. These ads push you straight to the top of Google search results, and bring thousands of new visitors to your website.

Sightsavers 'donate now' Google ad

Macmillan volunteers Google ad

BHF Donate Clothes Google Ad

Paid social

Paid social media is great for amplifying your content to reach more than just your existing followers.

The level of targeting offered by platforms like Facebook means social advertising can be a very cost-effective way to acquire new campaigners or donors.

You can target by things like demographics, interests and location, ensuring you reach only the people you want to reach.

ActionAid Facebook ad

Retention tools to keep your existing audience engaged

Every fundraiser knows the importance of donor retention. It’s so much cheaper to retain an existing supporter than to recruit a new one.

So which digital channels should you use to keep your existing supporters motivated and inspired?

Email marketing

The more personal you can be, the more engaged your audience will be. Email is one of the simplest ways for a charity to personalise communications by sending different communications to different supporter groups.

You can also use email in many different ways:

  • Newsletters
  • Recruiting existing supporters to take part in your events
  • Supporter onboarding (through automated welcome journeys)
  • Transactional messaging (e.g. newsletter sign-up or online donation confirmation emails)

Read why we think email is one of the most important channels for fundraising.

Social media

Globally, there are now 2.8 billion active social media users. And with such a wide range of platforms, from Snapchat to Linkedin, there is bound to be at least one that your supporters are using.

When used alongside other digital channels, social media is a useful tool maintain your audience’s interest. Use it to keep your charity top-of-mind with supporters by sharing interesting and relevant content:

  • Success stories/case studies
  • Informative/helpful pieces
  • Thought leadership
  • Appeals and campaigns

For some inspiration, check out Anthony Nolan’s successful 4-pillar Facebook content strategy.

Social media is also great for building micro-communities around particular events. For example, JustGiving has created a Facebook event for London marathon runners to connect, swap tips and motivate each other. This is a brilliant way of utilising digital to connect geographically disparate supporters.

Want to learn more?

For more ideas, we recommend taking a look at the Third Sector and Skills Platform Charity Digital Toolkit. From tips on understanding your audience to how to set up a Google Grant, the toolkit has loads of useful info to get you going.

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