Fundraising: Donor website mimics online banking system

A leading UK voluntary organisation is expected to trial a new online donor system that allows supporters to reduce or increase their direct debits, take payment holidays and make additional donations.

The system, called DonorZone, mimics online banking by allowing donors to control their donations when they log on to a section on the charity's website or a microsite. It has been developed by Bluefrog, a charity fundraising and communications agency.

The company hopes to reduce attrition rates, which many charities report are between 30 and 40 per cent. The system's developers argue that offering donors such options is preferable to finding direct debits cancelled without explanation.

"The system is designed for all committed donors," said James Briggs, head of planning at Bluefrog. "Many people, particularly young adults, manage their lives online, and we would rather they went to a charity's site to tweak their accounts than stopped their donations altogether."

Jason Potts, director of new media at Think Consulting Solutions, warned that charities must learn how to tailor such systems to their causes.

"This is something all charities will do eventually, but the real art is to make the banking function meet the emotional, touchy-feely part of the cause," he said.

Each charity that adopts the system can create its own branded site name and register a unique web address. Donors can then access their own personalised homepage with a unique user name and password.

The system will contact donors every quarter to direct them back to the site. It also has a page for lapsing donors, which people are directed to if they fail to make payments.

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