COVID disrupted the Islamic charity sector and revealed fundamental weaknesses which have made it vulnerable. However, despite the chaos, there are opportunities, and with them challenges.
Hassan Imtiazi is a digital marketing leader who has led some of the most successful charity campaigns for Muslim non-profits. He was recognised by Google for his work and kindly shared his insights on the future of Islamic charities.
What are the biggest challenges the Muslim charity sector has right now and how can we overcome them?
From a digital perspective, one challenge is the bidding of each other’s brand’s name. This is legal from Google’s point of view, but can only lead these charities to pay hefty prices of branded keywords.
This Ramadan CPC for Zakat keywords went as high as £45 (one click) in the last 10 days!
Muslim Charities Forum and Muslim Council of Britain can step up and form some kind of agreement between these charities, which restrict them to not bid on each other.
What’s been the biggest failures of Muslim organisations in their response to COVID and why do you think that happened?
Muslim organisations could have seen growth during COVID if they were prepared by investing in digital channels. Due to the lockdown last year, all ground activities like fundraising events, footfall in mosques and other face to face interactions were impossible, so it forced many to adapt which is not an easy task.
As per my understanding, online can contribute up to 70% of charity income. The charities did their best and contributed a lot but also missed an opportunity as they did not prepare by building their capabilities to deal with the rapid digitalisation accelerated by COVID.
What new opportunities are there for Muslim organisations to benefit from?
We have around 4 million Muslims in the UK and the majority of the Muslim population is below 30 years of age. They prefer digital due to the ease of using technology and spend more time on social apps which did not exist 5 years ago. Furthermore, they trade in crypto and invest in the NFT marketplace.
I can see Muslim charities tapping into this audience and utilising these technologies to their advantage. The first movers’ advantage is something very important in digital. So this is very critical for any organisation to adopt new technologies and to never be afraid of doing new projects.
What type of strategies can they implement?
The beauty of Digital is that you can start a campaign as little as £10 per day. But the best practice is to see holistically as to what and how these online channels contribute or complement each other.
For example, search or PPC/CPC marketing is intent-based whereas display is more about creating awareness, but they complement each other.
I follow a number of models to create a digital strategy.
AIDA is an acronym of awareness, interest, desire and action.
SOSTAC was developed by one of my mentors, PR Smith and is widely used globally for a more in-depth comprehensive effort across various functions of organisations.
Digital marketing mix with a £100,000 budget can have the following components;
Mix of Social, search, programmatic (display & video) & online PR
I prefer to split 60:40 or 70:30 of budget allocations.
60% to 70% budget on more action led campaigns (conversion as an objective)
30% to 40% budget on awareness & engagement objectives
This can differ from industry to industry and brand to brand. The good thing about digital is, as it is agile, we can adjust it at every level. In the majority of cases, we make changes at tactical levels in order to make sure we get desired results.
What is the future of the charity sector?
In the future, I can see organisations moving towards digital transformation.
Digital transformation has many components and people think of digital maturity in terms of technology but it is more than that. There are basically these elements.
- Digital and data infrastructure
- Tools like CRM- Salesforce, Google Analytics, Google Ads/Bing
- Digital skills and it is more than just operating the tools. It’s a way of thinking and mindset.
- Digital Strategy to make you align whatever you are doing using this technology with overall business objectives.
How can we continue to learn in order to stay on top of things within the industry/role?
So every year I set goals, for example, I need to attend a number of digital marketing conferences here in the UK or North America (SMX). I take some refresher courses every 2 to 3 years and meet with industry leaders and learn from them; I read blogs to know what is going on in the industry.
Want to learn more about Google Ads for Nonprofits? Or how Hassan went from a monthly budget of just £350 to within 3 years of more than half a million?
Read his simple easy to understand step by step guide which was developed to not only teach you how to increase revenue but also reduce cost per acquisition. Order here