It’s that time of year again – Movember is here and moustaches of all shapes and sizes are sprouting in offices and homes up and down the country.

Movember is an international charity campaign that is based on the simplest of formulas; ask people to sponsor you for growing a moustache in November. Last year it raised £11.7m in the UK for Prostate Cancer UK and the Institute of Cancer Research, and £55.6m across 21 countries for men’s health. It is an extremely well-executed initiative that is planned months in advance, taking into account the increase in website visits, online and text donations, digital activity and inbound calls.

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However, not all charity campaigns are part of a fundraising and digital strategy – they sometimes come about almost overnight, propelling organisations onto a national, and sometimes international, stage.

2014 gave us key of examples of this. It was the year of the viral charity hashtag; if you didn’t throw a bucket of ice cold water over yourself or take a selfie without any make-up on and donate (or know someone that did), frankly you must have been living under a rock.

In March 2014 the #nomakeupselfie campaign in aid of Cancer Research UK took Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by storm, raising a staggering £8m in just six days. The campaign exploded rapidly – what started as a trend became an internet phenomenon in just 24 hours.

Cancer Research UK ensured technology did not hinder the viral campaign by pointing donors in the direction of its JustGiving page and JustTextGiving details when the donations page received high traffic. As a result, JustGiving received over 500,000 visits through Facebook on the first day of the campaign alone and that evening there was a 50% increase in website visits. JustGiving is experienced with these spikes in traffic and has the underlying infrastructure and technical power to cope – without it the #nomakeupselfie campaign may not have been able to raise as much.

In a similar fashion, in August and September last year, the Ice Bucket Challenge took over the digital world and raised over £140m worldwide for charities associated with Motor Neurones Disease. The scale of it was unimaginable with 17m Ice Bucket Challenge videos uploaded to social media platforms from all over the world.

Now, these are not everyday campaigns and they are almost impossible to replicate, but important lessons can be taken and applied to charities of any size and scale. In both instances, the charities that benefited did not initiate the campaigns; they simply “listened” to social media and were in the right place, at the right time, with the ingenuity to take advantage of the situation. This raises two key points:

1. Being digitally active is paramount

2. Your organisation has to have technical resources in place to cope with an unanticipated upsurge in donations prompted by an unplanned social media campaign

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Movember, by its very nature, is anticipated to be “viral” and unlike the #nomakeupselfie and Ice Bucket Challenge campaigns, the charities involved are prepared for upsurges in activity. However, the same rule still applies; ultimately elasticity in technology infrastructure (and approach) is key. If the infrastructure is flexible enough to cope with sudden and unexpected peaks in demand, then it could be the difference between whether someone is able to make a donation or not. Making a donation can often be an impulsive decision so if the mechanics for the donor to do this fail, the moment can be lost.

Ultimately, in this ever growing digital world, we expect our online experience to be seamless, and this is no different when looking at charitable organisations. Although budgets are significantly (if not, hugely) smaller than that of corporates, we as the consumer expect the same digital standards. However, charities are stuck in a tricky position where they are under a lot of pressure to ensure money is going to be put to the best use. At the same time though, we expect our data to be protected and secure, whether it be as an individual or as a major corporate supporter, but this costs money. Thus, charities are usually caught between a rock and a hard place; needing to be up to date with technology but not having the money or “freedom” to spend on it.

In order to strike this balance between elasticity, capacity and security, it is essential that charities have an underlying infrastructure that can cope, or partner with a supplier that can build and manage a flexible solution for them. Using an OPEX-based managed cloud model provides more resilience, scalability, reliability and security for a controllable cost, and can transform a charities digital strategy so that it can cope for any digital eventuality.