Updated: Jun 16
We are kicking off our brand new Boost Chat series with Jamal, the founder of CerealBox agency, on a mission to revolutionize the digital fundraising world.
I hope you enjoy this interview-style blog post and if you have any suggestions on the topics for future Boost Chat posts, leave a comment below.
How was CerealBox born?
I had a problem. After working with a range of different charities over the past few years, I realised charity marketing was some way behind For-Profit marketing.
Despite managing an agency that generated over £32 million in donations, I was left wondering what could have been.
After digging around I realised the problem was universal. Data analytics, segmentation, relationship marketing, landing page optimization, AI; items that were staples in For-Profit marketing were largely missing in the charity world.
At the same time, I heard horror stories of charities blowing tens of thousands on SEO and another charity that paid for a billboard outside a stadium during the pandemic (at a time when no fans were allowed in!).
I kept thinking, how many people could that money have helped?
Something had to be done. So, we assembled a specialist team to help charities with marketing. Our aim was to increase online donations through digital.
We sourced the latest growth hacking discoveries from the marketing world and coupled it up with research from the fundraising arenas. This allows us to help our charity clients to reach even more donors and impact even more people!
Why is digital fundraising important?
Where do I start!
Firstly, digital fundraising allows charities to reach audiences they could never have reached before.
Secondly, you can track the exact results of your fundraising efforts, unlike traditional fundraising.
Thirdly, digital fundraising allows you to test a strategy on a small scale before committing to it. That means you’re not in shock horror when you find out your expensive fundraising gala didn’t even break even, despite all the blood, sweat, and tears you put in it.
I can keep on going - but most importantly it means that charities can build a reliable, steady income. And due to the pandemic, digital really is the only option for such income avenues.
How has digital fundraising changed in the last year? Do you expect it to change in the coming years?
Despite the difficulties of the last several months, the pandemic has brought forth a positive. It has served as a catalyst for the digitalisation of the charity sector. A transformation that was desperately needed.
As with any transformation, there are early adopters and laggards but the main thing is everyone has had to dabble with digital. So just this forced shift in mindset, for me, has been the biggest change in the last year.
I expect the charity sector to continue to commit to digital - it’s an irreversible transformation. And the great thing is that as the sector becomes more comfortable with digital fundraising the standards will raise. And that’s exactly where innovation and experimentation thrive.
This is what really excites me about the future because that’s exactly what CerealBox stands for. We’re all about innovation. Case in point; we’re commissioning research into neuroscience and human behaviour in fundraising. But for us, this is just the very start of a very exciting future.
What advice would you give small charities with little or no digital presence?
Content. The biggest difficulty in marketing is crafting authentic, meaningful stories. But charities have a plethora of hair-raising, goosebump-giving stories.
Simply documenting these stories is a really easy and inexpensive way to spread your cause/campaign.
So how do you exactly do that? Just grab your phone or camera and ask your beneficiaries/staff why they engage with your cause. Then simply post that on a social media platform like Twitter, TikTok, etc.
The key is to be consistent with churning out content. It has to be a daily habit. And also make sure the story is short and snappy.
And remember to put all the ‘juicy’ parts at the very beginning to keep people engaged.
Any quick wins that small charities should start looking into right away?
Connect with your lapsed donors. If someone hasn’t donated to you in the last 12 months you need to re-engage with them.
And that doesn’t mean just sending them your monthly newsletter. They probably won’t read it anyway.
Instead, write them an email or a letter or even call them -
explain to them where their previous donations have gone (what impact did it have; provide some stats)
tell them why you need more donations and
convey and convince why you value them so much.
Where can we find you?
I live on LinkedIn so it’s best to catch me there.
I’m always up for a good chat and we offer free 35-minute strategy calls so be sure to utilise that.
If you’re not on LinkedIn drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.cerealboxagency.com.