IT intelligence: Web presence

Sue Fidler on making the most of your web presence to raise income online.

There are many ways to raise income from supporters online, but very few charities have tried to do more than provide 'donate' buttons on their home pages.

The simplest option is to offer supporters the option to set up card donations or direct debits. If you produce a 'donate page', always include contact addresses and phone numbers for those donors who don't want to use their cards online.

The next most common option is shopping. Charities might offer goods in seasonal catalogues or sell second-hand items online. Some charities offer affiliate shopping - raising money from products sold by external companies.

Many of the big commercial internet retailers offer affiliate schemes, but these seem to have limited viability. For example, some schemes offer a percentage on sales from new customers.

But there are few new customers around for the big retailers such as Amazon. A better bet is internet charity specialists, who give a percentage for every sale driven from your site.

One of the most successful new ways of generating income online is from auction websites such as eBay. Income can be raised by asking eBay sellers to donate a percentage of their sales to charity. Sellers even get a charity symbol to display on their eBay profiles to show their support.

Alternatively, charities can become eBay sellers themselves. This is particularly easy for charities that have second-hand shops, but those that run car boot sales have also got in on the act. Even if you don't have a regular influx of donated goods, you can ask people to donate goods and services for you to sell online.

Whatever you offer, make sure the payment method works - including the automated thank you - and is easy to use for seller and buyer.

 - Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant

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