The Digital Fundraiser Joins AAW

22nd October by Imogen Ward

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During 2021 we have been pleased to offer a free Digital Surgery Service to our clients from digital fundraising specialist Deniz Hassan, offering advice on any digital issues facing charities.

We’re now delighted to announce that Deniz is joining the AAW Group as Director of Digital.

Deniz is one of the sector’s leading digital practitioners, a regular speaker on digital fundraising at conferences and the digital lead behind the UN World Food Programme’s recent astronomic global digital growth. Deniz has an unparalleled record across both strategic and operational digital planning, technical infrastructures, media buying and analysis.

We caught up with Deniz to find out a little more about his track record and his plans for AAW.

Deniz Hassan image

Why is digital your thing?

Ever since I started working in the third sector about 15 years ago, I was focused on helping charities with their digital fundraising activities. For me, there was always a massive gap between the performance-lead mindset of a fundraiser and how that connected with digital. You’d often get people who knew their fundraising inside out or people who knew how to push brands and products on digital, but it was hard to find people that did both. So ‘digital’ on its own isn’t my thing…it’s thinking how digital could be integrated completely into the fundraising piece and how it could be used as a tool to maximise giving and reach new audiences. It’s come a long way but we as a sector are still way behind the commercial sector. This continues to frustrate me and I really want to turn the dial.

I’ve been lucky in my career as I’ve been able to flit a bit from charity to agency side  - thanks to this,  I am able to really understand things from a client perspective as well as bring the broader experience you get from working with lots of organisations at an agency. Like my fellow colleagues at AAW (Mark, Tobin, Imogen and Richard) I’ve been in a leadership role at charities and really understand the pressures and demands and the strategic need to join things up.

About nine years ago, I set up the very first agency specialising just on digital fundraising – I did this as I was growing tired of direct marketing agencies whose digital offering consisted only of a couple of developers trying to turn leaflets into websites and to figure out the nuances between e-commerce and actual fundraising.

My agency, Clockwork Pie, was designed to give charities the opportunity to work with people who lived and breathed fundraising, but who also had the skills to build and deliver amazing platforms to deliver it.

Tell us about your most recent role at the World Food Programme?

My role as Global Digital Fundraising Lead at the World Food Programme was pretty mega – I was responsible for driving creative and channel strategies and ensuring delivery but crucially I was also key in reshaping the way charity bought digital media and led a cultural shift in approach. I had to rebuild a skilled team to be less reliant on numerous outside agencies and more focused on bringing things in-house.

I am proud to say that this approach worked and was instrumental in taking the charity’s digital programme from a standing start to a multi-million pound (and one of the fastest growing) individual giving programmes in the world, driving income in more than 100 countries and five languages.

Earlier this year, a cross-channel integrated digital appeal around Ramadan with online content aiming to drive donations to address food poverty, won an award at the AD STARS 2021 international advertising festival.

Where do you really feel that you add value in leadership terms?

I guess I am what’s called a full stack digital marketer - I am a big exponent of ‘agile digital’, which ensures focus on acquiring and retaining donors for charities. ‘Full stack’ and ‘agile’ translates to marketers who have a broad range of expertise across digital marketing, including strategy, design, financial modelling, implementing campaigns on platforms and manipulating data sets; even if someone has a specialism in one of those fields, it is essential that teams are able to cover a broad range of tasks across the field.

Basically, I like to be able to do it all!

I would never want to come up with something that I couldn’t implement myself. So many people just come up with strategy, but it is how you deliver that strategy (and knowing how to do it successfully) is important. It also means that with a team full of that level of experience, you don’t have to outsource work to external agencies to fill any gaps.

What do you hope you can bring to the AAW Group?

AAW are now able to offer a range of expanded services in the digital fundraising space. This spans everything from digital audits and strategies to hands-on digital implementation support. Regardless of the organisations size or ‘digital maturity’, I think we can help.

Digital fundraising is a wild, messy world where different people tell you different things. But you don’t need to work it out for yourself, because we can do it for you; we understand all the different components and can take away the guesswork.

Marketing is about learning from mistakes that others have made – that is all part of the experience - but with our in-depth knowledge, you have someone who has already done all that learning and can you help you understand what you need to do to unlock your charity’s potential and to optimise value across a piece of work.

Like everything at AAW it’s all about taking a consultancy approach because I know every organisation is different - there is no one size fits all approach.

Timing for focusing on digital is critical and if you are not moving on this now, the window is rapidly closing before you become irrelevant. The digital world is moving so fast, it’s hard to catch up.

If you need any help with getting the best out of digital for your fundraising, drop Deniz a line at deniz@aawpartnership.com.