Online promotion helps small charity raise thousands

16 Aug 2016

Social media has helped a small charity in Manchester to spread its stories and even raise new funds - thanks to training from Good Things Foundation through the Lloyds Foundation Enhance Programme.
Back on Track helps vulnerable people - from ex-offenders to homeless people or those misusing drugs - change their lives for the better. Like any organisation they’d set themselves up with a basic website and Facebook and Twitter accounts, but Business Development Officer Sam Turner knew they weren’t getting the most out their online presence.  
He explains:  “When it came to our websites and social media feeds, I wasn’t exactly clueless, but I wasn’t particularly clued up either. I knew we could be doing more, and I knew I could be doing it more quickly, but I didn’t really know where to start.
"That’s where Jonathan from Good Things Foundation came in, through the Lloyds Enhance Programme. He gave me a tailored masterclass - and his enthusiasm for both Back on Track and what good content could do for us was infectious. He inspired us to change what we were doing and step things up, and we’ve been delighted with the results.”
Jonathan’s visit coincided with Giving Tuesday, and he encouraged Sam to use social media - and in particular Facebook - to encourage individual and corporate donations. Sam says: “I’d never really thought about fundraising through our social media channels, but Jonathan had loads of ideas. We launched a bit of a fundraising push on Facebook and got 15 new supporters.  That might not be much to a big charity like Macmillan, but it was huge to us! 
“Last year we had no individual donations. This year we’ve already raised £5,000 - so that’s a huge leap forwards. Connecting with people through Facebook has proved hugely effective. Before Jonathan’s visit I’d thought of Facebook as more for our volunteers or potential volunteers, and Twitter as a channel for stakeholders or potential funders. Jonathan helped me think beyond that, and we’ve now got a proper ‘Friends’ scheme and are targeting local businesses who might want to support us, or support one of our events. We’ve also got a Just Giving page and ‘donate’ button on our website so all the dots are joined together.”
Sam had been struggling to fit the job of manning Back on Track’s social media channels around the rest of his job, but with Jonathan’s help he’s been able to put a strategy in place, planning content, scheduling posts and scanning for relevant news or opportunities.  
Sam continues: “It’s amazing what a difference a few tips can make. Jonathan really showed us how to make something with nothing, and now our posts have gone from reaching just 15 to 30 people to reaching - in one case - 4,000 people.
"I've learnt how to use free tools like Canva and to create pictures and infographics to share our stats, how to make the most of hashtags to piggy-back on big topics, and how to ‘boost’ the odd post for just a few pounds when I really need to push something. Using the analytics tools has also really helped. Before I was just putting things out there quite randomly, but now I can see what works and what doesn’t, who we’re reaching and where.
“One of the biggest things Jonathan did for us was to help us recognise the power of our case studies. I knew we had great stories about some of the people we’ve helped, but because of their backgrounds and the very complex issues they’ve faced, we were sometimes a bit reluctant to tell them. Jonathan really gave me the confidence to shout about our successes, and how to use that great content to best effect across Facebook, Twitter and our website.”
Back on Track’s bigger online presence has already helped them get noticed further afield. “It’s only been a few months but people have already started coming to us because they’ve seen us online,” adds Sam.  “Recently a PR company running a campaign with a national brand doing a series of roadshow events were looking for a local charity partner in each area. They found us. I don’t think we’d have been top of the list this time last year. It just goes to show that spending a little bit of time adding to the website and posting on Facebook and Twitter really can pay off.
“With Good Things Foundation’s and Jonathan’s help, we’ve used our online channels to make money, raise our profile, create opportunities, and build connections. I’d definitely recommend other charities or organisations to invest in a bit of training and a bit of time - it’s really worked for Back on Track and it could work for you too.”  
To find out more about the Lloyds Enhance Scheme contact