MSF UK goes face to face with the future for digital fundraising innovation

By Lucy Tugby 07/10/2018

There are lots of places to encounter charity workers who are keen to sign up regular donors. Train stations, shopping malls, high streets – the list goes on. 

Face-to-face fundraising is nothing new and most people don’t have a problem with being asked whether they want to find out more about the good cause in question.

Yet charities sometimes hit a barrier when persuading people to part with their bank details. That’s why WPN Chameleon's digital studio Addition teamed up with humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to launch a new payment platform that overrides the problem.

“It builds on the success of our goDonate platform,” explains Vicky Reeves, the agency’s managing director of digital. “We were discovering that many donors are reluctant to give bank details for a regular Direct Debit, even if they’re happy to support the charity.”

For added security, some new credit and debit cards no longer carry an individual’s account details. Without this prompt people can find it difficult to give required information on the spot and the regular gift can’t be taken.

Addition already has strong relationships with major payment services providers such as Apple Pay and PayPal, and realised it could adapt goDonate to offer a slicker experience to potential donors while they’re on the move.

Fundraisers are able to set up a regular donation by using digital payment solutions such as Apple Pay, directly through the donor’s phone. The new process means people don’t have to divulge their bank details as these are already stored in the app.

Importantly, goDonate Street can sit alongside charities’ existing face-to-face payment methods, rather than replacing them. A one-off donation option is also available if people decide not to commit to a regular gift at the time. Additionally, the system includes a fundraiser dashboard which offers an easy way to view campaign metrics.

“We believe we’re first to market with this approach,” Vicky continues. “We spoke to MSF UK about trialling the new system and they agreed to co-fund the pilot. The charity conducts a lot of face-to-face fundraising at music festivals so we decided to launch at some of those events this summer.”

The MSF UK team for Camp Bestival was the first to use the new technology. Vicky says: “There were donor sign-ups through all the available payment apps. People found it easy and convenient. Many didn’t have cards with them anyway, so if they couldn’t have donated using their phone it would have been a lost opportunity.”

James Stickley, supporter recruitment manager at MSF UK, comments: “goDonate has been a game changer for us as it makes us so much more flexible to the needs of our potential donors. We don’t have to push them towards Direct Debit anymore and we can finally get around the problem of bank details not appearing on certain cards. By being early adopters of this technology, we are also future proofing our campaign as alternative payment methods become more and more prevalent.”

Since its Camp Bestival debut, goDonate Street has been rolled out across MSF UK’s fundraising team and accounted for 6% of the charity’s pledges in August 2018. From the agency’s point of view, goDonate Street is primed for other charities to use alongside their existing providers.

As for the overall goDonate platform 'Voice' giving - via devices like Amazon Alexa - is in development. There’s also an exciting project around Blockchain in the offing - it’s hoped the new system will give donors more visibility over how their gift is used.

Vicky adds: “These two developments feel like a natural evolution. Charities need to stay in step with the world of digital payments. It’s about giving supporters easier and more convenient experiences so they can donate how they want to and wherever they are in that moment.”

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