At Work: Finance and IT - IT intelligence

Sue Fidler says that bad planning is the bane of charity internet campaigns.

The biggest growth in charities' use of the web in the past year has been the proliferation of e-campaigns. The web makes such campaigns cheap, easy and widely accessible.

Unfortunately, many of these campaigns are not well thought out or executed. Even more unfortunately, the internet often gets the blame.

The internet is a tool. It allows us to do things we couldn't afford to do by traditional means. It also allows us to do them faster and to reach more people. But if the underlying idea is not thought through and the planning is inadequate, the internet will highlight such failures rather than make up for them.

A campaign needs a very strong raison d'etre. The fact that it is now cheap and easy to set one up and send it out into the world is not justification enough. What is the burning issue? What is the key message? Who is it targeted at? What are the objectives? It is essential these questions are asked. Woolly planning will be magnified by the materials, which will turn audiences off rather than fire them up.

Once the campaign strategy is outlined, the most critical issues for the internet are what you want people to do and what you will achieve. Site visitors can do only one thing at a time. They can then do sequential actions, but only one by one. Deciding the main 'ask' is critical.

So ask yourself what you hope to achieve and what the benefit will be. Think about the audience: who will care? Then think hard about what you want people to do and how you will measure success.

If we don't stop doing campaigns 'because we can', we will lose impact and will be complaining about campaign fatigue in very short order.

Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.

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