Small supporter actions that make a big difference

People want to support and help charities, but there are so many demands on their time and money it can be something that is easily forgotten or dismissed. We think that if you can give people the opportunity to support your charity through quick and easily completed actions, you can increase your chance of engagement and gaining a new supporter.

In recent months we’ve noticed charities starting to ask people to help with smaller more easily completed tasks and it appears that this has gone down really well. Here we’ve collected some of the ideas that we’ve seen.

Asking for non-monetary donations

Women In Prison – Christmas Cards

It was Women In Prison that first sparked my interest in this. After Christmas they tweeted that they wanted people to send them the picture half of Christmas cards as that would enable prisoners to make Christmas cards to send this coming Christmas. They had such a remarkable response that they then tweeted that they felt they had enough! Here’s the tweet that started it all and their follow up thank you tweet.

They also accept donations of arts and craft materials, which can be a great way for people to recycle all those knitting materials they bought on a whim when they decided it would be fun to knit a jumper… Definitely not talking from personal experience.

Kentish Town City Farm – Christmas Trees

After Christmas Kentish Town City Farm tweeted that they’d like to receive Christmas trees as their goats and sheep would enjoy them! They got a good response to this request and managed to turn it into some nice Twitter engagement. Who doesn’t like to see happy goats!?

Amazon Wishlists

Ok, this is technically a form of monetary donation, but by asking for a specific item rather than money directly I’d argue that it is viewed very differently by the public.

I’ve seen a few charities using an Amazon wishlist rather than asking for abstract donation values. I think that these work because they are more tangible to donors as they can see exactly what the charity is receiving. This might also lead to higher value donations, or simply donations from people who wouldn’t normally go through the rigmarole of a donation journey.

That’s another benefit of an Amazon wishlist; most people will have an Amazon account so choosing to purchase an item for a charity through the site would almost certainly be quicker and easier than completing a standard donation form.

Amazon Wishlist – Bloody Good Period
Bloody Good Period are an amazing charity that gives menstrual supplies to those who can’t afford them. They have an Amazon Wishlist where people can purchase relevant supplies. They also have a great tie up with the start-up Dame Box which allows people to set up a regular £5 box which provides 2 months worth of supplies.

Amazon Wishlist – Stay Brave
Even if you’re a charity that doesn’t use or require materials for your key activities, there are still ways in which you could use this. Stay Brave is a brand new charity that has an Amazon Wishlist filled with things that any office based charity would need and require. This has been a great way for their supporters to be able to engage with the set-up process and really see the impact that their donations can have.

Sharing information on social

Some charities are primarily concerned with awareness raising, in which case a social media campaign simply asking people to share your content can be an effective way to reach your goal.

This campaign by World Wide Breast Cancer did brilliantly last year:


Another example is using Thunderclap which is a platform that helps you trend by getting your followers to sign up to send a tweet including your hashtag at a specific time and date. You set up the tweet and all they have to do is give permission for it to be posted. It’s a great, low touch way to get people involved.

Time to Change recently used this to promote their annual Time to Talk day:

When you set this up you’re able to set a target for how many people you’d like to sign up and you can also see the number of people you will reach based on the number of followers of the people who sign up. You can see that this Time To Talk Day campaign did hugely well through Thunderclap:

Short Term Volunteering

Good Gym – one off volunteering

Good gym is a brilliant movement (pun intended) that combines exercise with either regular visits to a lonely older person or one off volunteering options. They operate all over the country and do a great range of work. For example my local one recently helped out a homeless shelter:

If you’re a small charity which could benefit from a one off visit from a bunch of friendly, motivated individuals then it could be worth contacting your local Good Gym to see if they can do anything for you.

Short term volunteers – Benefacto

It’s often difficult to find a productive use for someone who can just volunteer as a one off, and the time it takes to organise/manage this is usually prohibitive and outweighs any benefit from their volunteering time.

If you’re London or Manchester based there’s a company that tries to take the hassle out of this; Benefacto work with large, mostly private sector companies that offer charity days as a benefit to their staff. Together they can organise groups to come and help out for set amounts of time. If you’re able to set up some simple tasks that people can come and do within a day, then it might be worth contacting Benefacto to find out if they can help you. They work with people such as food banks, employability clinics, older people centres etc.

How can you apply this?

If you work for a charity that uses specific items in delivering your work then an Amazon wishlist could be a good way to go. It’s easy to manage and seems to get good levels of engagement,  you can also easily thank supporters by sharing images of the items in use.

Try to think of something with few barriers to completion, or something which takes advantage of a common problem e.g. disposal of Christmas trees or Christmas cards. Recycling or sustainability is a hot topic to capitalise on if you can. If you can combine these into your request then your users will get a double whammy of good feeling through reducing waste and also helping out a charity! Everyone’s a winner!

In an increasingly fast-paced world, charities need to think beyond the traditional ways in which users can support them and consider smaller, more easily completed actions. They might not have quite the same value to your charity as a regular donation, but in terms of engaging new and current supporters, they could be invaluable.