Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
This blog is for you if you are a Senior Executive, board member, or a key influencer of a charity, social enterprise or non-profit organisation.
If this sounds like you, we can imagine that your key objectives include:
- To expand – and then to retain – the number of donors and supporters that you have
- For those donors and supporters to increase their contributions over time
- For the staff of the organisation to maintain (better still, increase) the enthusiasm they have for their work and the organisation’s mission
If you agree with our assumptions above, you are clearly not alone! According to the Charity Excellence Network, there are close to 500,000 charities and social enterprises in the UK – of which almost 20,000 have annual incomes of more than £500k.
Perhaps now more than ever, growing your donor pool is a top priority, what with recent data indicating that the level of giving and the percentage of people giving has changed recently (mostly negatively) due to Covid-driven circumstances. This isn’t because peoples’ willingness to donate has diminished but rather because their opportunity to give was affected negatively. This in turn has resulted in countries such as the US, UK, and the Netherlands falling out of their traditional slots in the pre-2020 ‘top 10’ of most charitable countries – and being replaced by countries like Nigeria, Kosovo and Thailand where people have found other innovative ways of donating and helping others.
It’s also worth noting that worldwide, 45% of charitable donors are enrolled in a monthly giving programme. This suggests there is a loyalty factor associated with charities and non-profits. However, the risk is that over time some of these donors become detached from your charity. They forget about that monthly item on their bank statement. They become less engaged and lack a true connection to your organisation. After all, if they are like me, they don’t sit down to read every fundraising letter or email that their chosen organisation sends them. So, these monthly givers are less likely to be increasing their contributions or encouraging others to give.
Of course, as an executive or influencer of a charity, social enterprise or non-profit organisation, financial donors are not the only individuals relevant to you. Many of you also rely on volunteers, who give their time and talent to support your organisation. Not surprisingly, the percentage of people who volunteer has also decreased over the last couple of years – again primarily because of constraints imposed by the Covid-19 situation.
However, Covid aside, it is interesting to note that there is a great amount of research and data looking into the reasons that people do or do not volunteer.
The general conclusion is that people are more likely to volunteer if:
- they are asked to do so by someone or a channel that they trust
- they understand the mission of the organisation
- they feel their contribution of time will be useful and will match their personal objectives
But what does all of this have to do with podcasting?
Well, a lot!
If you’re looking for a fresh way to engage more potential donors (while it’s becoming increasingly harder to do so) and to better engage and encourage your volunteers, a podcast could be your answer.
Podcast listening has increased rapidly in recent years. Nearly 2 in 5 people in the United States listen to a podcast each month and an average of 8 episodes each week. On a similar trend, 18% of UK adults listen to podcasts weekly. On top of this, 70% of people listen to podcasts because they want to learn something new – and they are listening for longer.
It is our view that, given the many people whose behaviour is reflected in these data points, it has to be the case that among these people are individuals who donate money or time to organisations like yours. So, they are listening to other podcasts – but not, yet, hearing from you.
Do podcasts really work?
In the last 3 years, the creation of content by brands has risen exponentially. There were as many as 8,000 active branded podcast feeds available through Apple Podcasts in 2021 alone. This is largely due to the fact that “Businesses that invest in a branded podcast can see a considerable uplift in engagement, brand awareness (89%), brand favorability (24%), and even purchase intent (14%) compared to other channels such as video or blogging” as stated in a study by the BBC.
Another benefit of creating content specific to your objectives and brand is that many audiences, particularly the younger generations, are very difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels. Research by Bulbshare warns us that using traditional advertising isn’t very effective if you’re trying to engage Gen Z. 99% of this age group are hitting ‘skip’ on every ad thrown at them and nearly two-thirds (63%) use ad blockers. Combine this with the fact that Gen Z are reportedly watching less and less TV – with 29% not watching any live TV at all – and it becomes evident that Gen Z are a challenge to reach through standard advertising channels. We must do so via their own content consumption instead – and luckily, Gen Z love podcasts.
Now, if a ‘normal’, profit-seeking commercial brand can experience such levels of improvement by using podcasting as part of its outreach, engagement and communication model, why can’t you?
After all, you already have a community of interested donors and supporters. So, why wouldn’t you use these already well-proven techniques to drive increases in donations (i.e. purchase intent), greater participation of volunteers (i.e. favourability and awareness) and as a mechanism to broaden your support base (e.g. to attract more and also younger supporters) – with the confidence that podcasting is already a familiar and popular medium within your target audience?
OK, so now that you are seeing an opportunity here for your organisation, we do have another suggestion for you to consider…
At Auddy, we are increasingly seeing new innovative podcasting strategies – including organisations creating exclusive content e.g. for members, franchisees and people who wish to gain some more ‘in depth education’ than is available in the general podcasting world.
This can certainly apply to you too.
Podcasts deliver added value e.g. to existing members and partners (helping to retain them) and provide a mechanism to attract new ones. Some organisations are charging people to subscribe and listen to this exclusive content – and among those are a number who include messages from business partners or other entities who agree to sponsor the podcast to cover its costs and/or to create an additional revenue stream.
But what exactly is a private podcast?
Put simply, a private podcast delivers exclusive content to a specific audience. In your world, this could apply to people who donate a certain amount to your charity and therefore gain access to your podcast. Or, perhaps lower-level donors can choose to ‘opt in’ and subscribe/pay to listen.
You see, this is a great idea for many charities and organisations because you (a) are encouraging higher donations in order to ‘unlock’ extra rewards, (b) are giving back to these donors in the form of meaningful content and (c) have opened up a new, fresh way to connect and engage with your community.
Your target audience is a ready-made captive audience who have a vested interest in you, and they will typically value additional, exclusive content that you offer to them via a different medium.
Furthermore, as they listen, they will do what they do after hearing other podcasts – they will tell their friends and family. These people will then visit your website and other online resources for the first time or more often, they will spend more money on you (i.e. more and more first time donations) and will develop a deeper connection to your charity.
Hopefully, by now you are beginning to think about what content you might include in podcasts offered by your organisation. If you need some inspiration, however, consider the following options…
Addressing your supporter community
In our view, if the target audience is your existing and new donors, supporters and volunteers, the primary focus should be on telling the stories that are at the foundation and of your organisation. That definitely means:
- stories about the people or entities who have needed help (how your organisation has been able to help them);
- stories about those donors, supporters and/or volunteers – how they found you, why they decided to ‘pitch in’ and what that association with your organisation has meant in their lives
- stories of your team members – why they joined your organisation, what their role is and the impact of their work;
- stories that add important context to the mission of your organisation – and which detail the impact of your work. For example, if your organisation is working to address something like climate change, racism or hunger, your existing/new supporters will be interested in your perspective on this challenge. A great example of this is Global Goal’s podcast An Idiot’s Guide to Saving the World. The podcast addresses the organisation’s environmental and humanitarian-related missions, but does so in an entertaining, memorable way.
For your internal team
On the other hand, maybe your priority is your staff (especially if they are working remotely, perhaps distributed across many territories and/or not often present together in groups). For them an internal, again private, podcast can be ideal in driving increased loyalty – helping individuals to feel that they ‘belong’ and are connected to their colleagues.
An internal private podcast can also be used to share success stories from within your organisation – and allows you to do so in an intimate way. If your podcast is private, you can dig much deeper into an operational, financial, confidential or sensitive matter than you would in a public version that you may provide to donors, supporters and volunteers. In addition to telling interesting stories and sharing important internal updates, you could also provide your team members with valuable mental health resources in order to lessen the stress that is caused by their critical work.
Also for your volunteers and ambassadors
If your organisation is one that has many volunteers or ambassadors, one of your objectives may be to ensure that they receive and can reinforce their understanding of important onboarding, orientation and training curricula. Here again, a set of private podcast ‘modules’ can be an extremely effective way of packaging and delivering the required information. You can develop a library of reusable content that is easily accessible to listeners at their convenience (which then also means avoiding, or at least reducing, the money and time spent on in-person or online training sessions).
Auddy’s team can help
In addition to helping you think through and then implement your podcast strategy, Auddy’s creative team has extensive experience in crafting and then producing beautiful content for organisations like yours – some of it made available publicly and some of it intended for exclusive access to donors, volunteers etc.
We would love to learn more about you and your organisation – and then to advise you on how best to delight and inspire your community. This may also include identifying and then contracting the right voice talent to tell your stories – as that too is critical in driving engagement (i.e. it’s not as simple as just getting your CEO to speak into a microphone).
Audio first, not audio only
I’d like to close with one last point: at Auddy, audio is at the centre of everything we do. But it isn’t the only thing we do, nor should it be the only aspect of your podcast strategy.
We know that judicious use of video is also helpful and is, in fact, pretty much a required component for podcasts (and vodcasts) intended for Gen Z. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘just throwing out there’ video versions of the same audio content – rather it means using video content strategically to enhance the listening experience. This is especially important for organisations like yours, where the audio ‘tone’ in which the stories are presented will be critical to how they are received by listeners.
But if your organisation is one that may need to protect the identity or location of clients, staff members or physical facilities – or whose clients are mentally or physically challenged – any video content would have to be mindful of this (e.g. using actors’ voices and/or obscuring faces). However, delivering these key stories using the protagonists’ actual voices, where possible, would likely be even more powerful when enhanced by carefully selected images or video.
Our creative team will help you with all of this – as will the strategy and technical specialists who can assist in designing and delivering the optimal ‘audio-first’ programme for your organisation.