INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Member Viewpoint - Email is a powerful tool for reaching the professional classes

TREVOR COUSINS, MInstF who is client services director at e-communications consultancy Thirsty Fish

Why is it that so many charity fundraisers want to build relationships with people like themselves - affluent, professionals under-50 - and yet they under-use electronic methods?

If you bear in mind that the average professional under-50 communicates primarily by email, telephone and text, isn't it time that fundraisers got to grips with email?

Of course, there are a number of hurdles to overcome but possibly the biggest is the willingness of many fundraisers to adapt to the world in which the under-50s live. A number of charities produce very professional e-newsletters.

While seeming to be cutting edge in delivery, the content is usually stuck in the "this is what we want to tell you about" mould.

The under-50s are time poor and reading a newsletter is a duty, not a joy. Entertainment and friendships are what people are looking for to help them combat the pressures of daily life. Just think about it. Do you email people but rarely see them because you are too busy?

Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Challenge event participants. Develop the bond through email thank yous, project updates, message board and photo gallery areas on your web site.

Introduce fundraising asks once the sponsor money has been delivered and the community is developing well.

On the street recruits. A welcome email is more memorable than a direct mail pack, and more environmentally friendly.

Build the brand. Put desktop backgrounds and screensavers on your web site.

The opportunities are there for the taking.

Just make sure your communications are timely and relevant.

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