Lightful predicts digital trends for 2019

Kirsty Marrins
Digital communications specialist
07 Jan 2019

Last year we predicted that more charities would be experimenting with chatbots, videos would be ‘thumb-stopping’, brands would become more purposeful, charities would become more transparent and content would become more visual. All of these digital trends have definitely happened – although perhaps not as much as we thought (AI, chatbots and Alexa skills are still not commonplace). So what does 2019 hold?

These are our digital trend predictions for 2019:

Bespoke peer-to-peer fundraising platforms

Haydn Thomas, Director of Development

Peer-to-peer fundraising has long been the remit of platforms such as JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving and BT MyDonate. The increasingly ubiquitous technology that underpins these platforms is now cost-effective enough for medium and large-sized charities to build and manage their own, customised platforms. The benefits of owning the digital real estate of a peer-to-peer platform are also becoming clearer:

  1. Charities are now able to run digital ad campaigns for events and provide an integrated, streamlined experience for participants (this replaces the disjointed 2-step process of event registration + fundraising page journey).
  2. Charities can target donors with digital ads after visiting their friends’ page (see Cancer Research UK’s platform).
  3. Charities can drive supporter journeys using useful data like ‘date last logged in’ or ‘date last visited’ to step in to help struggling participants and amplify participants with above average results.
  4. Charities own the data* of all participants, supporters and visitors (including their behaviour while visiting) – this is hugely important as events and other digital campaigns are the best replacements for traditional donor acquisition channels that have dried up over the past 3-5 years.

*Only if you have the correct consent in place and are GDPR compliant.

2019 will be the year of digital wellness

Beth Kanter, master trainer, speaker, author

I see two digital waves reaching our shores in 2019, related to artificial intelligence and digital wellness. The impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning and the data and algorithms that power these disruptive technologies will continue to dramatically impact our personal lives and civil society. What happened in 2018 with Facebook is just an appetizer.

In 2019, there will be broader recognition that AI is not just a technical tool to solve the world’s problems and that we need a richer spectrum of views to design AI systems, to be asking questions around ethics, benefits, and risks. In 2018, we saw a continued rise in public attention on the harmful impact of too much screen time and companies like Apple adding features like screen time and Facebook’s new dashboard. 2019 will be the year of digital wellness.

Charities will invest in podcasts

Kirsty Marrins, Digital Communications Specialist

Podcasts are all the rage at the moment. According to Ofcom, 6 million UK adults listen to a podcast each week and that number has almost doubled in just 5 years. Half of all podcast listeners are under the age of 35, however, its popularity is increasing across all age groups.

There are already lots of sector podcasts, such as CharityComms, Tech For Good Live, Cancer Research UK Tech Team Podcast and What Donors Want from our friends at I.G. Advisors. Some charities also have podcasts – Amnesty International and the Mental Health Foundation are just two. I predict that more charities will start their own podcasts as part of their comms strategy. It’s a wonderful way to share stories and interview people involved in the cause, and now that technology has developed over the years it’s affordable too. Even if charities don’t start their own, they’ll look to advertise on popular podcasts, just as Save the Children and Versus Arthritis have. It’s a great way to reach a new audience and engage people in your work.

More stories on social media

Tereza Litsa, Social Media Manager

Stories are becoming more important on social media and 2019 will be the year that we’ll experiment more with them. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Snapchat allow us to test vertical content. On most platforms, Stories only last for 24 hours, which means that we need to be more creative and authentic. On Instagram Stories, your videos can only be a maximum of 15 seconds.

This is a great opportunity for charities to tap into the power of storytelling without necessarily using a big budget for it. You don’t need a professional videographer to create Stories – all you need is a phone and the curiosity to try a different way of engaging your supporters.

There are more than 400 million monthly active people using Stories on Instagram and more charities are already trying them out and experimenting to see what their audience engages with. How about using them in 2019 to promote your campaigns, events, or even to show your appreciation to your supporters?

Is digital funding demand or supply?

Vinay Nair, CEO & Co-Founder

OK, I’ve enjoyed studying a lot of Economics over the years, and sometimes I can’t help myself! The availability of funds (Supply) by forward-thinking funders grew apace in 2018, and that momentum is set to continue into 2019. We saw organisations like Comic Relief, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Big Lottery Fund, amongst others providing new funder plus and other innovative offerings for charities using technology to increase the awareness, funds and impact of their work.

Has this induced charities’ interest or is it actually a response to it? In our experience, with programmes we have run with funders like Comic Relief and the Gates Foundation, we have found very high levels of over-subscription to sign up (Demand). Cassie Robinson who runs Big Lottery Fund’s £15 million Digital Fund blogged that they had 1,210 applications! Momentum seems to be in both sides of the equation, and with a growth in available funds, innovative partnerships and a strong desire to take up the opportunities, 2019 should see further growth in unlocking the use of technology for social good.

Digital donations will become easier

Faith Chastain, Director of Partnerships

The ease of contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay has undoubtedly made our lives easier, however, it’s probably made us all a bit lazier too. How many times have you stopped a purchase or a donation because it was taking too long, there were too many clicks or the website wasn’t mobile friendly?

In 2017, charities in the UK started offering Apple Pay, with many of the larger, well-known organisations leading the way. Last Christmas, Save the Children designed a contactless Christmas jumper, which was worn by collectors at 16 London tube stations on their annual Christmas Jumper Day. Blue Cross, an animal welfare charity, equipped dogs with coats with a contactless reader so people could “pat and tap” the animals to make a £2 donation. Other charities are offering contactless options instead of buckets and often with interactive experiences.

But what about the small and medium-sized charities? Only 4 per cent of UK charities are currently using contactless systems, potentially losing out on £80m a year by only accepting cash payments. And what about people like me that prefer to give on my mobile?

Perhaps the biggest barrier for small and medium-sized charities is their limited digital presence. As charities grow their digital competence, email and social media can become vital mediums to better connect with supporters to raise more funds and support. Let’s mix the traditional with the new. Tell me a story of your incredible work and give me an easier way to support you!

In summary

2019 will be the year where charities will invest in their own peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, digital wellness will become a priority, more platforms will focus on Stories, charities will invest in podcasts, there will be supply and demand for grants to unlock the potential of digital and digital donations will become more commonplace.

What are your 2019 digital predictions? Tweet us @Lightful.

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