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How the digital revolution is leading the way donations are made in hospice retail

Author: Elizabeth Duffy
24 April 2018
  • Rob Finley

In this advertorial Elizabeth Duffy, Marketing Manager for Charity at Cybertill, writes about the importance of technology in hospice retail.

Technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in retail today, influencing almost every aspect of our retail interactions, and it is something that charity retailers have been keen to embrace for a few years now. Improving retail offering by introducing websites, ecommerce platforms and third party selling such as with eBay and Amazon, all build towards improving online presence which is great, but what about the donor experience - is enough being done to improve this?

Rob Finley, Head of Charity at Cybertill, explains how focusing online does not need to be at the detriment to the rest of your business, and is something that hospice retailers are embracing:

"Hospice retailers are innovative and forward thinking in what they do. Because they are often geographically restricted, they tend to be relatively small operations, which provide them with a greater ability to push retail and technological boundaries, trailing innovative ideas ahead of larger, national charities."

On average, hospice retailers have 15 to 20 stores across their regions that are an integral part of the community. Technology allows hospices to diversify their offer and grow their portfolio amongst donors in their area. Hospice shops can now sell lottery tickets in-store right up to the last minute; provide supporter loyalty cards that can be used for promotions and gift aid; and significantly, offer easy gift aid donor sign up that also monitors how supporters interact with the charity.

According to HMRC, charities are losing out on extra gift aid funding worth nearly £600 million a year, suggesting the significant benefit that charities face to gain from technology. This means charities must drastically grow efforts beyond the traditional – albeit still effective – methods, such as, mass sponsorship events, cake sales and physical fundraising events.

Cybertill has experienced first-hand that hospice retail customers want to improve their donor experiences through technology, as Rob explains:

"We have worked with Lindsey Lodge for a number of years now and they are very responsive and excellent with helping us test our new technologies. Over the past six months or so, they have been trialing electronic donor sign up for gift aid."

Electronic donor sign up has been designed to take the admin out of signing someone up for gift aid, whilst capturing their data accurately and securely. Rob continues: "Gift aid is difficult for lots of charities, as it used to involve a physical signature on a piece of paper, which then had to be saved for a number of years to comply with HMRC rules. We realised that it can be difficult for a volunteer to do, where they are asking for a signature and logistically it is difficult for the charity to manage because they must save all these forms. So, when we brought our electronic gift aid on board we realised that it would remove all that paper – becoming ‘greener’ so to speak, and make things easier and better for the supporter as well as for store staff and volunteers."

With more than 195,000 charities across the UK, and most of them small, fundamental technological changes can not only seem daunting, but out of reach. However, with the introduction of easily functional digital in-roads, the path to technological enlightenment is not far off. "Straight away we thought 'we need to get people using electronic donor sign up.’ The more people use it, the better we can develop it."

As part of the beta test process, Lindsey Lodge decided to trial the new technology, as Rob explains, "they did a phenomenal job with it, they are using it now and have already seen improvements to their sign up and gift aid process, they have even seen more people sign up to their loyalty program as a result of implementing the technology."

But it is not just one charity providing feedback. Rob adds, "We are spreading the trial period out, so we get feedback from more customers. We have got a number of hospice retail customers around the country who will work with us to test new innovations and development."

Digital advancements can act as more than just a tool of applied science. Capturing accurate data can be used to help charities become more effective and efficient in raising money. How they communicate with donors, thank them for their donations, and keep in touch with them about the good work their donation helped to create are all ways in which the bond between donor and charity can be amplified. Add cloud-based gift aid information into the mix and it is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

With a future firmly set in digital, charities are being called upon by the industry and by their donors to act now. Giving is contagious. Charities can keep people motivated to donate in the future by embracing technology now. The connectivity, convenience, and platform to communicate influential material are there for the taking.

"Cybertill are extremely proud to be a part of providing innovative technology that enables hospice retailers to develop and build their operations, whilst hopefully raising more money in the process. It is what we are all about."

For more information visit Charity Store

Follow Rob on Twitter

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