The human connection – still the most important channel in the voluntary sector

We’re a world that’s always online. Our phones are an extension of our bodies as we email, tweet, text, browse, read, shop and share at any time of the day or night. Naturally, organisations of all types are exploring how to connect with this online world – and the voluntary sector is no different. Our client, St-Martin-in-the-Fields Charity, recently responded to this trend, launching its online fundraising approach.

St Martin in the Field Christmas AppealSt Martin-in-the-Fields Charity helps homeless and vulnerably housed people – perhaps best known for its annual BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal. We’ve been working with the team for the best part of a decade – you can read about it in our case study. But in this blog we share St Martin-in-the-Fields’ experience in exploring the digital opportunity.

In 2013 the team decided to focus on marketing a web address (rather than the telephone hotline) to encourage the majority of their Appeal donations through the website. That year, although the volume of donations were higher, the value of each donation was lower. In view of these results, the team refocused their attention on the traditional phone line raising a record £3m in a month.


So what is it about the Radio 4 Appeal that bucks the trend for digital? The answer is nothing new.

The power of voice…

According to Barclays Business’ Charities Report from 2015, 97% of charities agree that there will always be a place for traditional channels – with 62% of charity donations made by phone. St Martin-in-the-Fields’ experience further supports the role for traditional channels. People phone the Appeal line because they want to make a human connection. They want to hear how their donation will help make a difference – preferably from one of the many Radio 4 presenters or celebrities answering the calls.

In time, and as donations from the older generations decrease, contributions from younger generations (the fastest growing demographic for donations up 30% compared to 24% from older generations) will increase. Ensuring that donation facilites are available, and familiar to this generation, will of course be key. That means starting work now to develop a multi-channel strategy.

A multichannel approach for support and donations

When voluntary sector organisations are ready, a multi-channel approach will help in not only managing donations, but in providing vital support when people need it most. Connecting voice and video calls, emails and text messages through the cloud.

A virtual contact centre helps you provide vital support, wherever your team are based, at any time of the day or night so you can make that human connection when people need you most. Using things like a tabbed screen functionality, means you can see every interaction, following a person’s journey across multiple channels and devices. At the same time a wallboard can work as the heartbeat of the contact centre – showing beat by beat the measurements most important to you.

A pop up approach

A new and exciting approach to fundraising is to set up pop up contact centres in the cloud, from any location for one-off events or a fundraising drive. It’s especially helpful for remotely engaging home workers. In the case of St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity, the team will soon use the pop up approach to engage celebrity support – an increasingly popular way to attract new generations of donors. The celebrities can then log in from anywhere in the world to get donor calls answered.

Why go cloud in the charity sector?

“Nimble” is one of the words we like to use to describe working in the cloud, because it means you don’t need to be tied to a fixed location. Your call handlers can work remotely, at any time, ensuring no call goes unanswered. And from a fundraising point of view, payments can be securely and automatically taken through a PCI compliant card payment service 24/7. The cloud’s also elastic, it can stretch up and spring back to suit your needs at any given moment.

Why Sesui?

In addition to St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity, Sesui works with a number of voluntary sector organisations, including Grandparents Plus (helping grandparents in the care and development of their grandchildren) and SPANA (the international charity for working animals of the world). Our business is built on untangling communications systems and putting them into the cloud for organisations that provide a vital service. Working with the voluntary sector matters to us – we want to help. If you’d like to hear about how our solutions, Sesui Support Connect and Sesui Pop Up Connect, can make a difference for you and the communities you serve, please call me direct on 03445 600 600.

We’re Sesui. We make vital connections.

Call us: 03445 600 600