Here at the Masonic Charitable Foundation, we’ve long had a strategy for developing our digital and technological offering to ensure we provide a high-quality fundraising and donation service for our supporters. However, when COVID-19 hit, we found ourselves having to fast-track our plans and evolve rapidly so we could carry on offering the same level of service to both our donors and the people we support.
Now, we are emerging from the other side of the pandemic as sector leaders: our charity has seen a huge increase in efficiency, effectiveness, and average size of donation, and is now considered to be a star of the charity world’s technology scene.
But how did we get here? And why now?
Cast your mind back to March 2020: a time that will stick in many people’s memories, not least because millions of people found themselves confined to their homes for the foreseeable future. This meant no seeing family and friends, no going to the pub… and for Freemasons, no lodge meetings.
But with in-person meetings the only way Freemasons could get their hands on Gift Aid envelopes – the most popular way of donating to the MCF at the time, and one which involved cash or cheques – our supporters suddenly found themselves with no way to donate and, overnight, income to support our work dropped off. In an average year, we could expect to receive around 220,000 Gift Aid envelopes… but the last two years have certainly not been ‘average’.
With remote working in force, our dedicated Digital & Technology Team set to work accelerating our plan to build a ‘digital platform’ to give our supporters a paperless method of donating. By December 2020, the system was up and running. Thanks to these efforts in the early days of the pandemic, we now have a faster and more efficient process for accepting donations.
So what exactly do these advancements involve?
For starters, we have removed the need for paper to be used in the donation process. The traditional form-and-envelope method is there for those who want it, but now a far quicker option has been brought to the table. Digital donations allow for better communication with our supporters – we are able to see your donations in real time, allowing us to better track things like festival totals and honorifics and feed back to you.
There is also a big time-saving element to all this new tech. For example, the new e-voucher programme, allows users of our Relief Chest Scheme to allocate their donations to charitable causes entirely online. This means transfers are instant, and charitable causes receive much-needed cash speedily and efficiently.
And to top it all off, the printing costs and time saved mean that our overall running costs are lower. Everyone’s a fan of getting more bang for their buck, but in the charity world it can be the difference between being able to support someone and not. Now, donors can know that even more of their money is going direct to our beneficiaries.
According to an independent study by digital fundraising experts Blackbaud, all of these developments put us in the top 12 per cent of charities and we are now considered “digital experts”. But it’s not just bragging rights we’ve gained – our digital provision is now robust, easy to use, and futureproof.
So, what does this mean for our donors and the people we support?
We’ve evolved more quickly than expected, and we’re stronger because of it. Don’t get us wrong – this isn’t just a solution for when we’re masked up and dealing with COVID-19. It’s a system that brings with it convenience for donors, greater accuracy, and lower operating costs… all in all, then, it helps us to be better at doing what we do.
We, have successfully used technology to navigate the turbulent waters of the pandemic and strengthen the safety net we offer you and your family. Future, we’re ready for you!
Find out more about the e-voucher scheme