Building Digital Capacity in fundraising - key points

5 Jan 2022 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 5 Jan 2022

On 6 December 2021 we hosted a discussion with Kevin McCaughan, a freelance fundraiser, on building digital capacity in fundraising as part of the #digitalfundraising series.

Kevin is an experienced fundraiser and graduate of the Ulster University's Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Investment for the Third Sector and Advanced Certificate in Management Practice (Transformational Management in a Digital World)

The session explored the challenges and the capacity needed by the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland to fundraise successfully in a world where digital citizens are fast becoming the norm. This resource outlines some of the key discussion points and suggestions from the session and provides a link to a recording of Kevin's podcast where he describes the issues.

Kevin addressed three main challenges in his presentation:

  1. How does an organisation consider digitalisation in a world of growing economic instability?

  2. How do you balance the needs and expectations of a more conservative, traditional donor base with the expectations of modern, digital citizens?

  3. How can you embrace change when your operational capacity and ability to implement digital methods simply doesn’t exist?

1. How does an organisation consider digitalisation in a world of growing economic instability?

“Social media offers charities an easy route to promoting their cause the platforms each provide ample opportunity for charities to communicate with new donors and reach new audiences and raise awareness of essential elements of service delivery.”

Charity digital September 2021.

•            Not an all or nothing decision

•            There is no reason why digital cannot sit alongside traditional

•            Digital change can be evolutionary doesn’t have to be revolutionary.

•            Digitalisation doesn’t have to be expensive.

•            Cultural change – old financial normal is being replaced by cashless society.

•            Older demographic can be more resistant to change. Many boards are made up of older people, over 55 years.

•            Needing to balance needs of older and younger donors.

•            Charities need to show greater versatility

•            Impact of Covid, Brexit and Environmental issues.


•            Digital strategy can sit alongside existing work

•            Focus on what you have – build around your social media

•            It doesn’t need to be expensive – use existing data, work with what you have got.

2. How do you manage the needs and expectations of a conservative, traditional donor base with the expectations of modern digital citizens?

•            If someone is socially engaged with your organisation they are interested

•            Skillful marketing and social media strategy are needed

•            Digital fundraising is often lower in cost.

•            Digital is constantly evolving


•            Manage your marketing mix – you can meet both needs

•            We are in a transitional phase – this will pass and soon most will be digital

•            The old normal is gone – we need to embrace change not step away

3. How can you embrace change when your organisational capacity and ability to implement digital methods does not exist?

•            Needs to be mindset to change to new processes

•            Lack of people/fundraisers with the skills mix needed.

•            Those who pay the most are attracting the most skilled people.

•            We need to be more creative to find suitable solutions – what do we have to offer? Cause and impact on communities. Motivated by making a difference. Offer attractive packages to meet their motivations.

•            Volunteering and placement opportunities with your charity.

•            Build relationships with your local colleges and universities and welcome interns and placements, as well as new employees


•            The VCS can be seen as poor relations in employment – but can come up with creative solutions

•           The increase in social consciousness can work in our favour - this can attract young people to charities

•            Create Win-Win scenarios
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by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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