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Exploring Digital Fundraising with Cereal Box

As part of our commitment to support the not for profits with potentially diversifying their income streams, we ran an online session with Jamal Abbas, Founder and CEO of Cereal Box - an organisation specialising in digital fundraising.

Digitial Fundraising is using digital technologies to get more donations for your organisation. Your Cause + The Internet = Digital Fundraising. Jamal talked about the different types of digital fundraising: Social Media, Influencers, Virtual Events, Crowdfunders, Emails, SMS and Text as some examples.

Cereal Box have managed to raise over £35m for their clients by focusing primarily on online advertising. This is adding your cause on social media and encouraging people to donate. It involves paying the social media company to advertise on that platform with the payment increasing your reach to the public. What's the benefit? Hopefully you go away with lots of money!

It was a very informative and interactive session with lots of opportunity for the organisations to think about how social media advertising could work best for them. There were lots of tips given by Jamal - some of which we will share with you now:

  • Online advertising is the long game. Over the short term you may make a little money or even a loss and that be off putting. Its not a get rick quick scheme. Some charities are making millions of pounds so it does work. Social media is good at getting you new donors quickly. If you treat that person correctly and have a good relationship with them, you can get many more donations. If you multiply the number of donors and treat them all well, you start to see it bearing fruit and having a tremendous effect.

  • Focus on recurring donations as they are far superior to one-offs. If I spend £50 on online advertising and a person donates £10 per month then over 2 years that person have donated £240. If you scale that to 1000 donors, you can see the potential.

  • Ensure your information is getting in front of the right people. Everyone sees different adverts and you need to make sure you are not wasting money on people who are never going to donate to you. Some people are more likely to donate to a cancer charity, animal rights, etc.

  • You only have approximately 2 seconds to get someones attention on facebook. On other platform its less - 0.6s on instagram! What you present therefore is so important - images, carousels, gif/memes, traditional videos, user generated content - which one has worked best? They all do in truth. Jamal preferred the user generated content, but in his experience, they have all produced results.

  • Create a plan in 3 steps - 1. state your problem in a bold and emotional way, 2. present your solution and 3. make your ask (call to action!)

  • Put your cause at the front. No one really cares about your charity, but they do care a lot about your cause.

  • Compare what they are giving with something else - for the price of a cup of coffee makes it a relatable price point. You can add an image of a loaf of bread too for example to visualise the same point.

  • Use the same images again and again. This is great in getting people to understand. It is often repetition that converts people.

  • Make sure your contact is optimised for mobile - approx 91% of your engagement will be from people who are on a mobile device.

  • Add subtitles to videos. Around 40% of people do not have sound on, so you are losing a significant chunk without subtitles.

  • Use faces to grab attention - humans resonate with humans!

Alongside these gems, Jamal also advised to keep experimenting as trends are constantly changing. Its important to never think you are right.

I hope this has given you a good introduction to the world of digital fundraising and has given you the encouragement to try to diversify your income using the online world.

If you are interested in finding out more about Jamals company Cereal Box Agency - their website is here.

Blog Post by Rashid Hussain, Funder and Charity Lead at All Ways Network. He can be contacted via email on

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