At Work: Fundraising - Hot issue - Is now the time to spend most of your budget on new media?

A public backlash against direct mail, pricing in proportion and the ubiquity of the internet mean that more fundraisers are considering a switch to digital media.

YES - NIROO RAD, chief executive, ASI Europe, a specialist provider of web solutions for non-profit organisations.

Now, more than ever, ignorance and apathy are not options when it comes to the use of digital media to attract and retain donors.

Investing sufficient time and budget in creating a compelling website for potential and existing donors and volunteers is crucial. A solid IT infrastructure will enable charities to appeal to a wide and targeted audience in a cost-effective and timely manner.

A website can effectively supply information to members and will encourage interactivity and retained donor support. One of its main advantages is its potential for exploiting audience segmentation. Charities need to bear in mind that different people respond to marketing techniques in different ways - some may view email marketing as an attempt to gain their support; others might prefer to donate spontaneously without the intrusive prompt.

Delivery can be cost-effective if the procurement process is managed correctly. The online community is actively seeking to give to charities and to communicate with them efficiently, quickly and in a way that suits their e-working lifestyles.

NO - JACKIE FOWLER, managing director, Burnett Works

New media offers great opportunities: directly delivered communications, live video links, discussion boards - the possibilities are endless.

But what is vital is communicating with your supporters - and potential supporters - in the right way for them. Even the most media-savvy of us don't want to be permanently plugged in - it just isn't everyone's cup of tea. People might not feel comfortable paying or donating online, and some of us still like flicking through magazines, receiving letters or poring over photos.

Yes, three million of us have registered with the Mail Preference Service to avoid junk mail. But that's about unwanted communication - we will opt out of digital communications for the same reasons.

So don't rewrite your budget just yet. Instead, invest some resources in finding out what your supporters want, what motivates them and how they want to keep in touch. Then your fundraising will be built on solid ground - not the latest technique. The key is choice - diverse channels to meet people's needs. Ignore new ways to communicate at your peril, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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