Insights Charity

Using virtual gifts to engage your supporters and reach new audiences

Virtual gifts are a great way for donors to show their appreciation and support for a cause they care about

While, at the same time, their act of giving is sharing the charity message within their networks of family and friends, amplifying its effect.

These types of gifts can be a powerful fundraising tool in helping charities engage supporters and reach new audiences, ultimately generating more income to fund vital work.

Here, we explore the benefits to both the charity and the donor, the differences between digital and multichannel platforms and how to promote virtual gifts effectively to leverage them for further impact.

Benefits for the donor

Virtual gifts are not just symbolic gestures. They have real benefits for both the donor and the charity. For the supporter, these include:

  • They are impactful and meaningful; donors can support a cause that matters to them and make a difference in the world, while they can be a great way of showing their gratitude and appreciation for someone who has helped or inspired them. Virtual gifts can educate and inspire others about the cause that donors support and the vital impact the charity makes.
  • They are convenient and easy to buy. Supporters don’t have to worry about shipping costs, delivery times, or availability. They can buy them anytime, anywhere, with just a few clicks or taps on their device.
  • They are customisable and personal. Donors can choose from a variety of options that match their budget, preferences, and values. They can also add a personal message or video to make their gift more significant and memorable.
  • They are fun and engaging; donors can have fun browsing through different options and finding the perfect gift for their recipient. They can also enjoy the feedback and recognition they receive from the charity and the recipient. And donors often share their gifts on social media, sharing their compassion and beliefs, and encouraging others to join in supporting the cause.
Benefits for charities – our top five

Offering virtual gifts can offer many advantages for charities through the opportunity to create a great supporter experience for donors, helping to build loyalty to their cause. Our top five benefits, are:

  • Increasing donor engagement and retention: Virtual gifts can make donors feel more connected to the cause and the beneficiaries, as they can see how their donation is used and what difference it makes. Virtual gifts can also encourage repeat donations, as donors may want to collect different gifts or support different projects.
  • Reaching new audiences: The recipient of a virtual gift has the potential to become a loyal future supporter of the charity themselves. Effectively engaging with virtual gift recipients by highlighting the impact that their gift has had, can transform a one-off experience into an ongoing supporter journey.
  • The potential for Gift Aid: Non-physical gifts have the advantage that Gift Aid can potentially be claimed, meaning that charities can currently claim an extra 25p on every £1 donated.
  • Reducing costs and environmental impact: Virtual gifts can save charities money and resources that would otherwise be spent on producing, storing, and shipping physical items. Virtual gifts can also reduce the environmental impact of donations, as they avoid generating waste and emissions from transportation and packaging.
  • Expanding the donor base and attracting new audiences: Virtual gifts can appeal to different types of donors, such as those who are looking for alternative or ethical gifts, those who want to support specific causes or regions, or those who prefer online transactions. Virtual gifts can also help charities reach new audiences, such as younger generations, social media users, or corporate partners.
What kinds of virtual gifts work best?

Virtual gifts come in many shapes and sizes, from planting a tree or paying for a cup of tea for someone, to sponsoring an animal or contributing to life-saving medical equipment.  Here are some of the factors for charities to consider that can make a virtual gift successful:

  • It is relevant and appealing. A virtual gift should match the interests and needs of your target audience. It should also align with your mission and values. It should be something that your audience would want to buy for themselves or for someone else.
  • It is tangible and specific. It should have a clear description and image that shows what the gift is and what it does. It should also have a clear value and impact that shows how the gift helps your cause and beneficiaries.
  • It is unique and creative. It should stand out from other options and offer something different or special. It should also reflect your brand identity and personality. It should be something that your audience would not find elsewhere.
  • It is flexible and adaptable. It should be able to accommodate different budgets, preferences, and occasions. It should also be able to adapt to different platforms, formats, and channels. It should be something that your audience can buy and receive easily.
Fully digital and multichannel options

Virtual gifts can be delivered in various ways, depending on a charity’s resources, capabilities, and goals. Fully digital options are virtual gifts that are delivered entirely online, such as e-cards, e-vouchers, and e-certificates. These are ideal for charities that have limited resources or want to minimise costs and environmental impact. They are also ideal for donor audiences that are tech-savvy or prefer convenience and speed.

Multichannel options combine online and offline elements, such as physical cards, vouchers, certificates, books, courses, etc., that are accompanied by digital components such as emails, videos, and social media posts. These are ideal for organisations that have more resources or want to maximize reach and engagement. They are also ideal for audiences that appreciate variety and personalisation.

Top tips for charities

Virtual gifts need to be promoted effectively to attract attention, interest, and action from your potential donors. Here are some of the strategies charities can consider.

  • Use storytelling techniques: Tell stories that showcase the benefits and impact of your virtual gifts. Use emotive storytelling, visuals, testimonials, statistics, etc., to make your gifts compelling and convincing.
  • Use segmentation techniques: Segment your audience based on their characteristics, behaviours and preferences, and tailor your messages accordingly.
  • Use different channels, and formats to appeal to a variety of audiences.

How Elovate can help

Creating and managing virtual gift pages for your charity can be easy and hassle-free with Elovate’s range of tailored products, backed up by over two decades of experience within the charity sector.  Our Virtual Gifts Page Builder solution guides you through the steps to set up pages for your campaigns, whether they are one-time or recurring. You can also choose to let us manage your pages and take care of the fulfilment aspects of the transaction.

For more information on virtual gifts, click here.

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