IT intelligence: How to use the internet to raise funds

With National Giving Week starting next Monday, we should think about online fundraising and the many forms we can use to raise income on the web.

As well as donations through both credit or debit cards and direct debits, there is a range of more subtle 'asks'. Once you are set up to receive online donations, it is easy to add in-memoriam, celebration and birthday giving. Lotteries, auctions, publications, gift shopping and Christmas cards can all be built up from the simple card and direct debit schemes.

When you are looking for a supplier, consider how much they charge, how long they take to pay, how they supply their reporting data and how easy it will be to add transactions to your database and finance systems. It is sensible to think about which types of online payment you want in the next few years, and to find a supplier that can do them all.

Apart from fundraising, there are other ways to generate income from visitors, searches and affiliate marketing deals. Consider banner placement on your site, particularly if you have an audience that will want to know where they can get goods and services appropriate to their needs.

Charity-focused search engines, such as everyclick.com, offer income from your supporters simply for using their search engines, and online retailers, including Amazon and Thomas Cook, offer affiliate deals whereby any sales driven from your site are rewarded with a percentage of the income or a flat fee per referral.

The most important thing is to tell your supporters clearly and visibly about ways in which they can support you - whether by donation, subscription, using a specific service or clicking through from your site.

You can have the most sophisticated donation and referral system available, but if it isn't easy to find and easy to use, you won't raise a penny.

- Sue Fidler is director of communications and solutions at the Charity Technology Trust.

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