Fundraising News: Delegates endorse new media as fundraiser tool

The use of digital media for fundraising is within the reach of any charity, regardless of its size.

That was the primary message to come out of the New Media Fundraising conference organised by the Institute of Fundraising in London last week.

The one-day event - the first in a series examining various fundraising techniques - focused on how charities could make better use of digital media, particularly after the unprecedented success of online fundraising for the Boxing Day tsunami.

Steve Andrews, managing director of Whitewater Creative Services, who chaired the event, said in his opening speech: "The tsunami was the coming of age for online media. People realised how relevant it was. The way the sector responded was one of its finest hours."

Andrews told the 100 delegates how the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals doubled the number of donations it received by emailing supporters before sending direct mail to them.

Throughout the day, charities including the DEC, Comic Relief, Oxfam, Breast Cancer Care, Cancer Research UK and Help a London Child explained how new-media methods are being adopted for fundraising and communication with their supporters.

Panellists agreed that costs are generally not prohibitive and that tapping into younger donors by encouraging relationships via the internet, TV and mobile phones is something charities should embrace.

Sarah Hughes, an interactive media charity consultant, said: "It is not a situation where there is a level below which you can't get in and get going. You can get started even with limited funds."

In an open discussion, Paul Sawyer, grants and trusts officer at Ty Hafan Children's Hospice in Wales, asked if the internet was really appropriate for smaller charities that rely on community fundraising methods. He queried whether charities run the risk of excluding donors who have not embraced the internet revolution.

The panellists agreed that charities need not worry about excluding donors so long as they respect supporters' wishes about the methods they are happy to use for correspondence.

Because of the popularity of the event, the institute is planning to repeat it on 31 January next year.

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