do we need a new label for online giving?

love heart on padlockThanks to the Marketing Academy I saw Rory Sutherland speak this week. It was an excellent talk with lots of things to take away. One of them was the importance of language in creating social norms.

Rory talked about the phrase ‘designated driver’ and how it was born out of anti-drink driving campaigns. He told us how the label was seeded into TV programmes and other media to get it accepted into mainstream language. And how this new label meant ‘not drinking’ went from being unsociable to acceptable.

It got me thinking about how we might apply this learning in the charity sector. With my digital focus the first thing that came to mind was the difference in adoption between ecommerce and online giving.

For commercial organisations, ecommerce is often a higher proportion of their income than online donations are to many charities. I stand by my previous statements that charities might be behind because of the available technology. But reframing the question using this case study from Rory provides some interesting thoughts.

We need a new language for online giving, a label which makes it more of a social norm than it is. There’s a strong case for this, particularly if you are an endorser of CAF’s research into the giving habits of younger generations.

Looking back at the language around charitable giving I’m not sure its changed that much in the last few decades (please tell if you know different!). If this is correct it’s not surprising that online giving is not aligned with the modern media environment or younger generations.

So what could that new label be?

2 thoughts on “do we need a new label for online giving?

  1. Great post Laila, I fear that one of the most recent terms to become associated with charitable giving (and charities in general) is ‘Big Society’. Not that that term in itself is problematic, but that there is far too much associated with it on a political level. This politicisation makes it far less about those that have contributed and benefited, and far more about those that have coined the phrase.

    The term ‘social investment’ may also be problematic for some of the same reasons, but I feel that it is a term that more accurately reflects what ‘giving’ can often mean to both those that give and that receive – An investment in the community/communities that you/they come in to contact with.

    I would argue that when anybody spends money online (or indeed offline, or anywhere else) they expect to see an ROI. That could be a new jumper, pair of jeans or sunglasses that will go some way to supporting their street-cred, or hipster profile.

    Whilst I am aware that many charities campaign with lines such as “‘£x’ donation will mean ‘Y’ to service receiver ‘Z'”, It isn’t always as easy to measure that ROI from a charity’s point of view. It should be. We should be able to say that ‘X’ (investment) = ‘Y’ (impact), but that isn’t always the case.

    This is a rather rambling comment, but I do think that elements (politicisation, poor measurement, poor reporting) of the non-profit sector make it difficult to replicate the clear ROIs seen in the commercial sector.

    Despite (or perhaps, because of) all that, I am quite happy to stand by your rallying cry – WE NEED A NEW LABEL FOR ONLINE GIVING (multiple exclamation marks)

  2. Thanks Paul. I agree there are lots of factors. Some of it might be gov driven but I also think there is a weariness of charities appearing overly commercial for fear of what supporters responses will be.

    Certainly needs to come into the label rethink 🙂

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