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Digital is critical

publication date: Nov 28, 2018
author/source: recap by Khalil Guliwala of a session by Sarah Ali & Joe Marilla

At the AFP Congress, it was clear from the many conversations that the digital space continues to be the one area that charities haven’t really wrapped their heads around.

It’s the new and the shiny.

It’s impacting all parts of our professional and private lives (think Amazon or Google).

It’s something board members keep asking for, and for which our excuses are running out.

It’s sometimes hard to follow the experts when the lingo they use sounds like gobbledygook. Many wonder: “are they trying to pull a fast one on me?”

And it’s also where the money is moving to.

In the absence of clarity, we can see why digital has become a sort of bogeyman for some in the charitable sector, with some fundraisers moving from curiosity to fear to hatred, even becoming dismissive of their colleagues who work in it, and the digital space in general.

And they’re making the worst possible mistake, for themselves, for their charities, and for the sector.

It’s here that Sarah Ali and Joe Marilla are going to have the biggest impact.

Not just because they’re bright and brilliant presenters, not just because they speak both the digital and the charitable lingo, but because in all the talks I have ever attended on the subject, this is the first time I have heard someone take a very simple, yet profound, approach.

“The right strategy is one your organization has the capacity to execute.”

It’s not about competing against multi-million dollar budgets – it’s about reaching your donors and your prospects in a way that you can handle that ends up in a net benefit for all.

While much of the talk was centred around Sarah Ali and Joe Marilla helped the ALS Society of Canada make their Walk for ALS event a success, everything they said could be applied by another charity.

For example, here’s my representation of their discussion on the stages in a Digital Campaign: 

And if you don’t have any benchmarks for the 1st year, that’s fine, that’s when the benchmarks are set, and it becomes a longitudinal project.

Lastly, this report would be incomplete without mentioning their 5 golden rules of marketing deployment:

1. Track everything

2. Create value

3. QA like your life depends on it

4. Launch small (“1 Ad to 1 Audience is Live”)

5. Conversion Rate Optimization is forever

A great presentation by some of the brightest stars out there right now in the digital and charitable sector.

Overview of session presented by Sarah Ali, Digital Strategist at Sarah Ali Digital, and Joe Marilla, Marketing Manager at Grassriots.Anyone interested in their work is encouraged to contact Sarah Ali Digital or Grassriots.

Khalil Guliwala is a bilingual data analyst/ fundraiser/ AFP Canada Fellow in Diversity and Inclusion (2018-2019) from Montréal, Québec. 

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