Section 1: Challenges and Objectives
A non-profit corporation exists without a profit incentive and involves itself in numerous social service programmes. Examination of the strengths and limitations of the enterprise (see SWOT table in appendix) contributes to the interpretation of the strategies by which the corporation will be able to cope with existing problems. It is crucial to analyse the opportunities facing the organisation and the threats that appear in the path of its growth. The management of the company gets a good picture of the potential directions in which it might use the possibilities and effectively cope with the risks on the basis of the results of this study. There are several main distinctions, but this study is identical to the analysis made by every other profit corporation. Any of these challenges are often faced by the Oxfam NGO. The effect of variables such as voluntary workers, fundraising, volunteer staff and long-term goodwill need to be addressed by administrators of a non-governmental organisation (NGO). As these organisations do not depend on profit for their sustainability, the factors listed above play a major role in achieving long-term performance (Turkishweekly, 2013).
From the study (see SWOT table in appendix), it was observed that companies are experiencing a range of difficulties in the NGO industry while undertaking marketing contact activities. Below, several of the notable problems are briefly addressed.
|Absence of strategic planning
|The shortage of strategic preparation is confronted by several companies in the NGO field who do not function as proper business enterprises. This absence of strategy, though, also causes indecisiveness or hurdles along the way of marketing. This question of strategic strategy at the marketing stage faces Oxfam (Ngoconnect, 2009).
|A characteristic concern of this field is the absence of good governance. The bulk of NGOs do not have a proper board of directors and their functions stay decentralised. Therefore, marketing relations strategies are not practised consistently. While Oxfam has a board of directors, it does not centrally supervise all of its contact operations.
|NGO Industry Issues
|Lack of funds
|One of the biggest issues for non-profit organisations remains the collection of funds. 80 percent of the operations of Oxfam depend on financial support from its affiliates, associates and private investors, while 20 percent of the assistance is given by the government (Oxfam, 2013a). A daunting job is seeking private contributors. The financial circumstances of contributors fluctuate, based on the state of the economy.
|In developing deep networks with clients and other NGOs, some NGOs are not quite effective. They face considerable issues in acquiring donors or building relationship with the government and other organizations (Penkenya, n.d.). After the financial crunch faced by almost all economies, Oxfam fronts the need to develop a stronger networking system with the donors in different countries to facilitate smooth flowing of funds.
Challenge 1: Need to identify the loopholes that require immediate attention and allocate resources accordingly. Fund should be allocated on priority of the programs for which expenditure is undertaken. University students can donate a portion of their savings or pocket money on a monthly basis for funding Oxfam.
Challenge 2: Utilization of online networking sites is very important. Socially responsible corporate firms, as well as university students, have to be approached for volunteering in the NGO’s activities.
Challenge 3: Offline communication is required in order to make a real impact on the university population. This would supplement the image of the NGO created in the virtual world of internet. Representatives would have to reach every campus in the cities in which the NGO has its physical presence and explain its causes to the target population.
The key objective of the organization is to fight poverty, since it is an impending evil, in the world that is developing fast. Therefore, new objectives towards developing its digital communication methods would be:
|To make survey on the university students every six months on the improvements noticed in the living standards of the underprivileged population in their respective localities.
|Effective allocation of funds in the key target areas
|To develop e-workshop programs for university students.
|Maximize utilization of online networking channels
|To ensure Oxfam representatives visit university campuses every three months and conduct seminars to develop direct relationship with the students that maintain online communication with the company as well as inspire more students to join the NGO’s online community.
|Enhance online relationship and improve communications through networking with the internet
|To use advanced search engine optimization techniques to increase the website’s visibility.
|Keep up to date with modern technological advancements
Section 2: Techniques and Requirements
Digital communications approaches cast significant impact on the factors which are the key challenges to the organizations. These factors as has been identified earlier are lack of funds, poor governance, absence of strategic planning and poor networking.
Oxfam uses various strategies to deal with the problem of fundraising (Oxfam, 2012). Some of the strategies currently used by the firm are advertising on the television and websites of various partner companies and sending mails to various individuals and organizations that intend to provide financial support to the NGO (OUP, n.d.). It also maintains good relationship with the individual donors that have both the capacity and the intention to donate large amounts to the NGO and directly approaches them through face to face interviews (OAAF, 2013). However, Oxfam faces the problem of lack of funds in the post financial recession period. The existing digital marketing methods fall short of collecting the necessary amount of funds for supporting all its activities (Oxfam, 2013b).
Oxfam has a good website that provides detailed description about the organization, its priority areas, the areas that it has worked upon in the past and its workshops. These details are updated from time to time. However, the website is not very user friendly. The links presented in the website to visit its photo galleries or list of past workshops are often found to be outdated. Replies are not made to comment or query mails sent by interested people that visit the site. For collection of funds, the management posts too many advertisements, which crowd the website.
Social Media Sites:
The NGO has a company page on the social media Facebook. This page is created with the aim of increasing its popularity among the Facebook users. Although the page has almost 3000 fans from different parts of the world, the activities and workshops are concentrated only among the existing members. There is an Oxfam forum in which new people can join only after the request is approved by the administrator. This delays the process of new joiners in the group. Besides, the Facebook contains too many theoretical facts and figures about the current situation of poverty and malnourishment. It requires more attractive contents so as to inspire more users to visit the page.
50% of Oxfam’s activities are restricted to specific websites and social networking channels which are popular in European countries and South Africa (Oxfam, n.d.). The NGO lacks identity in several South American countries and developing countries in East and South-Asia. This makes the connections of the organization location specific.
On the basis of the discussion presented in this paper, several new approaches can be recommended that would allow the organization to take their digital communication methods to higher levels of success. Since the organization aims at alleviating poverty and involving the university students in its activities, the new strategies have been formulated keeping in mind the new objectives.
- Video ads:
Video ads depicting the various activities of the organization to alleviate poverty and improve basic living condition of under-privileged population are effective in gaining mass attention (Edelman, 2010).
- Sponsored Contents:
Sponsored contents on various company websites, for example, gaming sites, online music channels or social networking sites are highly effective in attracting the attention of the university students.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques:
Marketers in Oxfam should regularly monitor the performance of the organization’s website. The website should display keywords related to the general interests of the target population and matches with the key words typed by them in the search engines. They should use Google trends to graphically asses the rate of appearance of the website’s in total volume of searches.
Mass emailing is one of the most popularly used methods in the modern marketing contexts. It allows the individual to save the received message directly in their inboxes, which they can save for viewing at a later point of time.
- Online Workshops:
The university students represent a highly active generation. They are students with enough spare time to enrol in various activities. Oxfam would be able to attract their attention though online workshops. They might take part in these workshops from their home or even university common room during free periods.
- Mobile Messages:
Messages can be sent to the target population in mass numbers. Oxfam endeavours to reach 40% of its beneficiaries and volunteers through mobile messages (Oxfam, 2013c).
- Company Pages in Social Networking Sites:
Promotions though social sites is highly effective. The company should develop a company profile in these sites and actively promote the web page so that more potential clients might visit their page (SPRI, 2011). Additionally, the link to the company webpage can be promoted on university websites.
2c. Critical Success Factors (CSFs)
Performance of the company with respect to all the four factors can be affected and improved though proper implementation of digital communication approaches. The critical success factors of these new marketing communication methods should be measured and rated (Merisavo, 2006).
|New Approach (success rating)
|Critical Success Factors
|Risk if not Achieved
|Video ads (1)
|Enables offline communication, provides visual description about company and its activities
|Involves large investment in developing the video and requires large amount of time dedication
|Sponsored contents (3)
|Inspires user to click on the sponsored content that lead to the actual website or advertisement of the company, increases user views
|Although low cost of online marketing, failure in reaching the target population mass. Many users do not click on the advertisements that are present in the website they are visiting
|Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques (2)
|By using more advanced methods of SEO it would ensure that the website is actively appearing in relevant searchers by internet users, facilitate promotional activities
|Entails very high losses if fails to achieve the objective. Low performance of SEO would imply that the company web page would not appear immediately in search results and a large number of volunteers and beneficiaries would remain unaware of the various activities of the company
|Allows the user to receive a detailed account of company information and upcoming activities directly in the mail inbox. Users might save this information for future referral. Builds a database for the company that can be utilised for networking in future.
|Risk is low level since the process of bulk emailing requires low cost, while the company might reach a large number of users at a single time.
|Online workshops (2)
|Direct involvement of the targeted individuals and organizations. It allows them to support and patron directly and also takes part in some of the activities for which they are donating money. Increases curiosity of the participants towards the activities of the organization.
|Involves considerable amount of cost with developing the online program. When it crashes, so it suggests that the organization is unable to fruitfully utilize the money allocated for the particular program.
|Mobile messages (4)
|Target population can be reached directly since mobiles are always carried by the users. The message can be conveyed without delay. Can ensure quick response from clients and beneficiaries.
|Promotional messages are often deleted by the mobile phone users since they crowd the inbox with large number of messages that do not have direct relevance to the users. Hence, many of the messages sent by the NGO might also be deleted as unread. It fails to achieve the objective to reach the target population and receive quick response.
|Company pages in social networking sites (1)
|Company pages are often visited by social networkers since networkers are interested in visiting new websites and collecting updated information about various company activities round the world.
|Risk of failure in social networking implies that the company is being unable to connect with the target market. This is a big risk since, Oxfam devotes huge amount of resources for promoting its company page in social networking sites and for various advertisements in these sites.
2d. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
There are certain indicators that are crucial for understanding the market performance of the company (Bach, 2010). The KPIs are chosen according to the objectives developed by the organization for improvements in the near future.
|Enhanced understanding of the requirements of the beneficiaries
|Online customer survey
Online advertisements and public relationship building
|Complete feedbacks of online survey from participants
Quick responses received from clients against request for feedback on certain services, reduction in number of complaints and Increase in number of suggestions of improvement, greater percentage of target population following the company in social networking sites
|Develop the capability to distinguish biased feedback from unbiased feedback, identify most readily accessed websites by users
|Increase in the number of people actively participating in the organisational activities
|Online communication with clients
Public relationship building through online channels
|Increase in number of people interested in gathering information about the activities of the company, increase in success rate in resolving queries of existing and potential clients.
Higher number of people maintaining active contact with the company and expressing interest in indulging into the activities of the firm
Higher number of comments on the updates made by the company in its webpage, new visitors checking out the contents of the company website
|Identify the comments that receive maximum number of attention (inbound traffic) from other people (in the form of higher number of comments and chain discussions), level of general awareness among the people regarding the organization and its activities, demographic characteristics of the audience that responds most to the company’s online activities
Section 3: Communications Planning
Communication is an important factor that affects the activities of an organization and determines the level of performance that the firm might reflect in the market. Right selection of key words is a very important task in digital marketing. Since, responses of the audience depend on the results that are provided to them by the search engine on placing a particular search, proper match of keywords is essential. Effectiveness of conveying the subject matter depends on the manner of its conveyance and the audience to which the message has been communicated (Ashley-Roberts, 2011).
|Online Digital Activity
|How Offline Activities Support Online Digital Approach
|Facebook, Twitter, Linked In
|Promotions made via weeklies, columns in dailies and monthly magazines, recognition and rewards declared for participation in the activities that are conducted online.
|Higher levels of offline interaction leads to personal face to face interaction between individuals or groups. It helps the organization to achieve the long term objective of increasing engagement of individuals and partner organizations.
|Submission of articles on news sites, blog sites, launching discussions on online news rooms
|Submission of articles and news reports to print magazines and newspapers, provides the headlines of various activities in these channels along with the links to the website in which the detailed information is published, making campaigns in busy streets and local roadsides to increase visibility of the organization and its activities
|Ensures involvement of the print media that helps the company to reach larger number of customers who would later on recognise the presence of the organization on the online channels. News is being conveyed to the people that do not have access to the internet or are not computer literate through hard copies (newspapers, magazines) as well as direct campaigns.
|Tracking inbound traffic in various websites
|Various networking events, written requests on newspapers, letter addressed to the organization, spread of word of mouth
|Word of mouth helps in increasing awareness about the firm among the target group of beneficiaries and the supporters. Letters to the organization also helps in assessing the extent to which the company is capable of connecting with the people
3b. Media Planning
|1st six months
|2nd six months
|Monitoring website performance, measurement of inbound customer traffic and outreach activity.
|Building up of links and connections among the participants in the networking process.
|Reach the potential clients and beneficiaries and receive their suggestions.
|Direct contact with the target population and allowing them to connect with the organization in its path of societal development
|Generate a database for sending bulk mails and send mails.
|Evaluate response rate to these mails and update contact database.
The company should use more advanced and attractive methods of marketing that would attract the younger generation. University students either already have a source of income or going to enter the work force very soon. The company should aim at attracting the youth since if the feeling of social service can be imbibed into the minds of this population, it would be easier to attract higher volume of funds in the near future.
The return on investment that Oxfam desires to receive, involves increased engagement of the donors as well as beneficiaries along with a bettered understanding of the needs of the beneficiaries. Investment is measured as an average of the cost incurred by the organization on its staffs and the maintenance of external agencies.
Figure 1: Monitoring report graph
(Source: Oxfam, 2013b)
A baseline performance of the variables is set against which the actual performance of the variable is compared. According to the indicators, monthly change in performance of key variables such as number of people attending workshops, monthly inbound traffic, number of feedback comments and enquiries about Oxfam services, are measured.
To calculate whether ROI is negative or positive, one has to consider both the value generated by the changing performance of the variables and the cost incurred in moving away from traditional methods of marketing and adopting the modern methods of digital marketing communications.
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· The special services offered by Oxfam are not protected through patents
· All volunteers are not well educated, hence the marketing activities are not effective
· There is lack of creativity in its social activities
· Financial constraints faced due to lack of fund