Dominic Wood

Dominic Wood looks at new services which bring you closer to donors and could lower your costs

Around 1,200 fundraisers will flock to Birmingham next week to discover the latest innovations in charity fundraising. The event includes a 50-stand exhibition showcasing new products and ideas.

Frank's Ice Store, the new-media arm of direct marketing company Bluefrog, will launch an interactive SMS marketing service called Thumb, which facilitates fundraising through mobile phones.

It enables charities to build interactive relationships with donors by personalising the communication. "Thumb allows the text recipient to register interest or to give," says John Wallbank, head of planning at Frank's Ice Store.

A charity can reply to a donor with a link to a microsite providing more details of a specific campaign. To give, donors can text back. They are charged for this and the money goes to the charity.

"This way a donor can text to give a sum of money to, say, get someone off the streets at night and receive a text saying who they have helped and how that person is doing," says Wallbank.

Whitewater's Our Lasting Tribute scheme, which launched in February, offers members the chance to boost their 'in memoriam' giving by creating a personalised tribute fund for recently deceased people.

"Donors can channel their money to the charity in the same way that they might otherwise fund a park bench. People prefer their gifts in memoriam to have a lasting effect," says Charlotte Harris, head of development at Our Lasting Tribute.

RNIB, Age Concern and the British Lung Foundation currently support the initiative. "We are flying at the moment with 19 charities on board," says Harris. "It offers members a strategic way of acquiring high-value donors."

Charities looking to benefit from fundraising events without paying for overheads may want to visit Skyline, which is launching two services.

The first allows charities to send fundraisers to open-overseas events such as its bike ride in China next May.

"An open event means a charity can buy into it without having to pay for overheads. Charities need only send one person to an event, which usually carries 50 people. We provide promotional literature and collect sponsorship money for the trips, whereas other companies don't," says Siobhan Dillon, charity account director at Skyline.

The second event provides spaces for charities to raise funds by doing Le Jo'g, its Land's End to John O'Groats relay run. For two weeks in September, charity teams, who have committed to raising £20,000 each, can take part.

The event, targeted at companies, has been underwritten by insurer UnumProvident.

Fundraising databases are never in short supply at the convention and this year is no different. Fisk Brett will launch Netsupporter, a web-based software for online fundraising, which it has designed to connect to its existing Progress database, currently used by 130 charities.

Netsupporter helps charities to build relationships with donors because both sides have constant access to each other through the portal, encouraging two-way communication. It also connects to the charities' database, allowing organisations to save time on data entry.

DonorPerfect, a US company that launched in the UK in February, is targeting small- and medium-sized charities with its scaled down data system, which it believes costs one third of leading database the Raisers Edge.

"Our fundraising database is easier to customise than others," says Bruce Prentice, UK business manager at DonorPerfect. "With our system, all mail for a charity recruitment campaign is generated from a central data depository, which allows mail to come from one source. This avoids confusion such as asking for money from people who have died."

First-time exhibitors include Keywords, a mailing house that handles donor recruitment appeals and specialises in personalised letter production and Execucare, a charity recruitment specialist, which handles around a quarter of the job market.


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