IT intelligence: New media presence

Sue Fidler explains why charities must have a new media presence.

There is a much debate in the sector about Web 2.0 and social networking.

Almost daily, a charity launches a new site or publicises a presence on sites such as Facebook and Second Life. Consultants and speakers are filling column inches and seminars with their opinions, and charity directors are predicting the future for charities.

But the question is whether the web, let alone Web 2.0, will work for traditional donors. The average charity supporter is reported to be female, over 55, someone who likes gardening and does not fit the typical web demographic. We must accept this fact, and we will continue to provide traditional offline marketing materials until the web-addicted under-40s hit the prime donor demographic - ABC1 empty-nesters.

But I have never heard of a fundraising manager who doesn't have a mantra about "attracting younger supporters" - which means a web presence is critical. New media lets us interact with younger audiences, and we hope these cash-poor supporters will become the donors of the future.

The 16 to 25-year-olds, who could become donors, live so totally on web and mobile media that we must be in their space so they know who we are - we can't expect them to visit our offline world.

But the over-50s, whom we traditionally think of as falling outside the 'webbie' generation, increasingly use the web for convenience and contact - and if we can find a way to tap into that, we may find more of them online than we realise.

And Saga, which caters to the over-50s, has launched a social networking site for its members. If it achieves a usable site with decent visitor numbers, it may tell us all that the web can work for that demographic.

- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant.

Finance IT Advice

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