How to run your charity like a Silicon Valley startup

One of the highest profile brands in the world trusted us with their IT insfrastructure

“I hope you know we wouldn’t have had another record breaking year without you. Fact.”

BBC Children in Need, Head of Digital

Children in Need is the BBC's charity. They exist to change the lives of children and young people across the UK.

We partnered with Children in Need for five years, before they took the digital and the principles we embedded in-house.

Their fundraising marketing was inefficient due to a lack of data

BBC Children in Need came to us to build a new digital platform for their fundraisers. The aim was to better use digital to raise more money.

They wanted to use data to make strategic decisions that would improve their fundraising.

They had an old portal for fundraisers. But it didn’t give them intelligent data. They couldn’t connect the dots between how much money was raised and how. For example, do cake sales produce more money than sponsored runs?

This reduced the amount of money they could raise. Which, for a charity of this caliber, was a big problem.

How we helped BBC Children in Need get what they want

We created a workshop called “how to run your business like a Silicon Valley startup”.

We helped them to answer the question: how do you get the best results, with a limited budget?

We took the principles of actionable metrics to dig into their marketing activity, fundraiser engagement, campaign activity and the structure of the charity.

Before you build anything, you need to approach this strategically. To use data to inform how you do everything. The challenge is how to do this at scale, on a high-profile project, that you can’t mess up?

When we asked them about data, they didn’t have access to any of it.

Their infrastructure was slow and heavy. It required serious IT capability from our side to deliver on this project. OurCTO, Richard Grundy, led the project. In fact, we are the only supplier the BBC allowed into their AWS account to make changes.

Our new platform was built on modern cloud infrastructure. Their old platform was being hosted on a PC in the corner of an office somewhere within the BBC. Any large traffic spikes – which are inevitable – crashed the system. To solve this, we packaged the data in chunks, so it didn’t crash their old system.

These changes allowed them to stop seeing themselves as a once-a-year thing, and shift to something that can be run throughout the year – capturing fundraising stories and distributing it out, like a TV channel.

Actionable data from digital fundraising

Our work gave Children in Need actionable data and digital technology, which allowed them to target their marketing on those who could raise the most money.

Children in Need drastically increased donations as a result.

None of this would be possible without that rich data. Data they previously had no access to.

We built a bespoke digital platform that allowed people to select different packs – based on age groups – and register for a physical printed pack to be delivered to their house. Our system coordinated with the printers to create a seamless process for the fundraisers.

We gave the option for fundraisers to download and print off their own PDFs, which saved a lot of money.

In summary, BBC Children in Need – as a result of our partnership – increased donations and reduced costs by using actionable data to target their marketing at the fundraising activities that produced the most money.