The results of the 2013 Social Charity Index are in

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The results of the 2013 Social Charity Index are in: small is the new big

Last month we invited charities to take part in this year’s Social Charity Index by Visceral Business, the results of which would help to provide insight into the latest trends and give charities the chance to see how others are harnessing the power of digital tools and social networks. Now the results are in and guest blogger Anne McCrossan, managing partner at Visceral Business, is here to tell us what they reveal.

Today, looking at the social media landscape two years on from producing the first Social Charity Study, we can see exactly how phenomenal and substantial the growth of social and digital media has become.

The average rate of growth in terms of user take-up across the four main platforms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube averages at around 350% over that time. That’s staggering. And networking technology means that large and small charities are now operating on a more level playing field.

In fact, we’ve found in the study this year that smaller charities tend to have higher levels of authenticity among their social followings. They also have a closer inter-relationship between the amount of supporters and revenue raised – what we’re calling the Networked Power Index.

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The data JustGiving has contributed to our study suggests small charities often have supporters who are better at sharing: their networks may be smaller but are relatively strong. This is important when levels of income raised have dropped by 26% over the last two years, but social sharing has bucked that trend and increased by 152%.

How can charities make the most of social business and networked media?

These would be my top tips.

1. Tell the story of your charity boldly

A charity’s website is a crucial first impression and the look and feel of your relationship with supporters starts there.

This video shows a wide selection of charity websites and demonstrates just what a crowded space the charity world is. Charities that tell a powerful story and have a strong visual character stand out more and stay in the mind.

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Colour, graphics, and shapes build impact, so don’t be afraid to define the visual language that best expresses the characteristics of your organisations across networks. And do so consistently, to help make it more recognisable as a digital asset.

2. Signpost people to your charity’s social networks

Signpost people to where your charity can be found across social networks so they can connect with you easily. Thinking about the entire supporter journey from the user’s perspective will make it easier to develop an integrated content plan that connects people together across departments internally too.

3. Curate your content

Good curation is a powerful way to develop a strong digital culture. Video and rich media can create really powerful scrapbooks that people can go back to, enjoy and share. The hashtag has made it into everyday conversation, so have a think about this as part of the language your charity has so they can help contribute to your developing narrative. Impact reporting online is a great way to give back to people who have invested in your charity. Developing a data strategy is invaluable here.

4. Analyse your audience

Social network analysis can be a great way of getting to know your supporters and to build your charity’s networked culture, so that events can become shared experiences.

5. Don’t forget the commercial

Consider how your cause can become embedded into everyday life through partnerships with commercial organisations. DePaul UK recently created DePaul box, a way of connecting people moving house with the issue of homelessness, which uses the everyday need to buy boxes as a way to spread awareness and create a database of potential supporters. This is how social business principles can be used to develop innovative new ways to fundraise.

6. Look after your connectors and communicators

Lastly, who are the people in your charity who are the natural connectors and communicators? Supporting them with training can help them feel comfortable and empowered using digital media. Social business is human business, but charities often fear that involving and engaging with people with an authentic voice means dropping their corporate guard and losing control. The ones that take the leap and trust their supporters then enable them to become a part of the net worth of their charity and to reach the full potential of social networking that is on offer.

The full list of the top 100 social charities in this year’s Social Charity Study is now available to download from the Visceral Business website.

What’s your take on using networking technology? Share your perspective and experiences with social media at anne@visceralbusiness.com

If you are interested in guest blogging for We make giving social, drop us a line at wemakegivingsocial@justgiving.com

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Anne McCrossan is the managing partner of Visceral Business that specialises in social business design. She is the author of The Social Charity Index, now in its third year, which has been sponsored by JustGiving. She is also one of the original collaborating authors of the book 'Business Model Generation', which has set the standard for social business design around the world.