The Digital Evolution of Charities – Just 30 hours of walking

Estimated Reading Time 10 minutes

The Isle of Wight Challenge is 106 km round the coast of the Isle of Wight. Walk it, jog it or run it, each offers a long hard slog over mixed terrain, coastal paths, hills and cliffs.

iow challenge

Why do I choose to put myself through 106k of walking anywhere from 20 to 30 hours? To raise awareness and much needed funds for my chosen charity OCD UK.

As many as 12 in every 1000 people suffer from OCD at some point in their life and for many it tears their lives, relationships and families apart. Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges. It is ranked in the top 10 most debilitating disorders, affecting both adults and children.

The walk is going to be a huge challenge for me. Having previously failed at 80k after 17 hours on the London to Brighton 100k this is also a personal demon I need to conquer. The route to my own donation promotion has been fuelled by social media, sharing training, images, and even a sweepstake for donators to guess the finish time all promoted via Facebook and Twitter.

rachels sweepstake

The digital landscape has allowed charities to reach more donations and increase awareness but also support more suffers than ever before.

The Challenges for Charities

A huge pressure on charities, the same as it has ever been, is resources, budgets, and return on investment; however the market is becoming very saturated with over 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales alone. This means being heard or found for the chosen charity becomes far more complex.

We are bombarded on the high street to sign up to charities, our friends are constantly running, walking and skydiving to make money for their chosen charity. Even the good old fashioned letterbox is full of donation bags, leaflets and flyers for local charities. To donate to even half of these, plus every friend for every event, every year becomes extremely expensive. Trust me raising funds for this event, for a lesser known charity has been difficult.

Charities are mainly competing for 2 core things

  1. Awareness of their charity
  2. Funding

So with the evolution of digital marketing channels and mobile apps, these goals have perhaps been made more accessible although more challenging to pin down commitment from the market to your charity.

It becomes increasingly important to invest in online web experience and social media engagement. With social media playing a huge part in fundraising and awareness, it is hard to remember how charities existed without this digital outreach channel.

My personal social media feeds are cluttered with obstacle courses, runs, walks, as well as charity support, so how do I possibly choose who to support? It comes down to supporting some via sharing awareness and others financially via donations.

brighton and hove triathlonbrighton marathon


race for lifemymarathon


Digital strategies for these charities is fundamental and the key is making the most of the budget. Wastage is not an option and the approach should be no different to promoting any other business online.

  1. Outline your goals and targets
  2. Plan the execution
  3. Implement your strategy
  4. Learn from the results
  5. Optimise and improve your strategy

As well as targeting sponsors, donators and event applicants, a charity website must also engage with the sufferers and carers. This can be a challenge to balance the two target markets with one approach, but by a combination of search strategies to be found online for relevant searches, and social media to promote and engage with the audience, digital marketing can be a cost effective way to voice the charities message and drive commitment from followers, as well as offering support.

Some top tips for non-profits:

  1. Measure your data

Google analytics is free, if you are not using it – do it now. If you are using it, make sure the data is tracking correctly, and if you have it but no idea what to do with it give me a call! Data is so important, It shows you where, how and what people visiting the site are doing when they get there. By understanding this, your marketing and fund raising strategies can be enhanced and made more efficient.

  1. Think like a business

Just because you are a charity doesn’t mean you throw the marketing rules out the window. In fact the fundamentals stay the same, what are your goals, and are you achieving them, if not then how can you and if you are, how can you enhance things further.

  1. Be mobile

With over 1.6 billion smart phone users in the world, if you are not mobile you will lose out. Make sure your website is mobile, that means works effectively on a mobile device, make it easy for the user to navigate and complete your online objectives.

  1. Clear Call to actions

Make sure people know how to donate, or contact you, or share an article or research. Identify what is it you want them to do, and help them do it.

  1. Content builds noise

The more rich and relevant content you can create and share the more noise and awareness you can achieve.  Content goes stale quickly, the trick is to make content that people want to share and engage with and most important, make sure it shares your brand message. Content can go viral but if it doesn’t reflect your message, it will likely bear little or no impact on your goals.

  1. Be found

Many charities think they will simply be found online, but with the number of charities growing, the search engines need a reason to promote your website over any of the competition. So follow the rules and best practices and be found. If your SEO is lacking, make sure you are using paid search to be found for the most pertinent keywords to your charity.

If you are a charity and want to find out more about making your digital marketing strategy a success contact us to discuss your requirements


Please feel free to sponsor me for OCD-UK


Rachel Mepham
With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity. With a deep skill set in the Paid Search, Social Media and Analytics, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced and prolific women in the UK digital space. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well as leading advertising and marketing agencies.