Online platforms, ‘round-up donations’, and ‘instant donations’: the charity sector is certainly not lacking in inventiveness when it comes to encouraging social solidarity and creating links between the real world and the digital world.

Social Good Week: “The days when you used to send off a cheque in the post are over”

Interview with Léa Thomassin, Head of Campaigns at charity and not-for-profit platform HelloAsso*. L’Atelier caught up with her during Social Good Week, which took place on 7-15 December throughout France.

L’Atelier: Are we talking about a pure digital strategy or rather a hybrid model?

Léa Thomassin: Yes, this is clearly a hybrid model, a complementary model. Because although online activity can never replace what we do in real life, if you want to build bridges between charity organisations and online communities you have to create highlights, special moments that help to bring them together. We see that the expectations of the general public – especially younger people – have changed. Young people these days are attracted to such things as microcredit and crowdfunding. So charities need to switch to digital so as to make donating easier and quicker and to be able to capture the attention of new audiences.

So where does donating stand in the digital era?

Well you need to create interaction between the donor and the project managers. You have to allow the donor to see photos and videos of your project and you need to open up a channel for comment and discussion.  The days when you used to send off a cheque in the post into the ‘wide blue yonder’ are over.  Social networks have now made donating, which used to be a very private affair, into something public. It has now become an activity that can go viral, which means you can reach out to a second circle of people. Being able to keep donors up to date with what’s happening and create interaction enables closer ties between the organisation and the donor, and it does work. The average donation on our platform works out at €65, compared with around €35 for offline donations.

What actions do the general public get to see directly?

We encourage charity organisations to show what donations can achieve. When you give a concrete illustration of what a given sum of money can do you encourage people to give, or perhaps to give more. In addition to donations, we’ve also found that a large proportion of these charities’ revenues come from events. So we’ve also set up tools that make it easy for people to become members and buy tickets for events. Last but not least ‘embedded social solidarity’ is catching on. This means we position charities, and/or appeals for donations right where the audience will be. For instance we’ve just launched a partnership with Yellow Pages, which have agreed to provide a button that enables people to make donations.

You were telling us about the importance of broadening charities’ appeal by using other websites…

Yes, I believe that e-tailers have an important role to play here. For example, the system developed by microDON that encourages consumers to round up an amount so as to make an instant donation is also now available on meal order and delivery site AlloResto. Embedded micro-donations are a trend which is likely to grow as it helps charities to emerge from the shadows and enables companies to highlight their social and environmental responsibility. There’s another approach – the view-donation.  Online visitors are invited to look at a brand advertisement, in return for which the advertiser undertakes to donate a few cents to the chosen charity. Around a million ads are viewed each month on HelloAsso* and this has generated €150,000 in donations since we launched the scheme!

*Asso is an abbreviation for Association. The French word association refers to not-for-profit and charitable organisations.

By Pierre-Marie Mateo