IT intelligence: Raising money online

Sue Fidler takes a look at the most efficient ways to raise money online.

Online sponsorship and event management are efficient ways to collect income and personal data. A huge advantage is the opportunity to collect both Gift Aid and contact details from each sponsor, something that can be time-consuming and painful if you use paper sponsorship forms.

Participants love having a profile online that shows their activism and enables them to tell their friends. Of course, this also enables them to do the marketing for you and generates a higher average amount and a higher rate of collection.

Both raffles and lotteries can be run online - it's a cheap alternative to sending out books of tickets that is far more likely to generate repeat payments. Email is the ideal reminder mechanism and can be used to let participants know who has won.

A few brave charities have experimented with online gambling, which is the fastest growing form of e-commerce in the UK. Most charities shy away from it, but if you are prepared to go down that road, poker and bingo offer huge opportunities for raising money online.

Whatever you come up with to persuade your supporters to get their credit cards out, it is essential that the process is obvious, easy to use and works well. The 'pay now' button on the website you are using should be prominent and obvious. The form must be as simple as possible - we all hate filling in details that don't seem relevant to the purchase, so don't include them. Make sure the payment processing works and the automated 'thank you' is immediate and appropriate.

If you're still stuck for ideas, just take a look at those corporate sites you find easy and efficient to use and do your best to incorporate what works from them.

- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.

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