Pressing buttons

02 November 2006

Large charities can use the internet for fund-raising. Isn't it timthat churches did the same?

I HAVE been aware of internet fund-raising for several years now, and havattended various seminars to find out where the charity sector is going witthis issue. Two things seem to be slowing down the process: first, have smalcharities, such as churches, found a workable method of publicising anengaging with internet donors? Second, is there an easy way to set up internepayments? While I do not have a clear answer to the first question, the seconis easier.

Internet donations are used very effectively by the large charities, anespecially by committees dealing with big disasters. People see a tsunami othe news, and can make a donation on their computer almost instantaneously. Thnews programmes provide the publicity, often giving internet and otheaddresses for donations.

In a parallel example, the set-up of large-scale fund-raisers such as the B's annual Children in Need appeal has comprehensive arrangements for takincredit-card payments over the phone.

It is less easy to see how this can apply to a parish church. It is unlikelthat being asked to give to a church cause will compel many people to makinstant donations on their computers. I do not feel that we have the marketinstructure to make this kind of fund-raising a possibility - yet.

It is equally true that, in general, people do not search the internet focauses to which they can donate online. A webpage in itself does not persuadanyone to give. The marketing happens elsewhere.

In the past few weeks, I have come across a website that is set up to helsmall charities receive credit-card payments through the internet. Thindividual charity's webpage has a donor button, which leads enquirers to websitewww.justgiving.comThey are then invited to donate, and asked the name of the charity or churcthey wish to donate to. The rest is easy.

In addition, will collect the relevant Gift Aid.

Some churches are already using this method, and I believe that if we starusing it as part of our fund-raising campaigns, we will find out, together witother small charities, whether this is a growth area for us.

Display your webpage address, alongside the church phone number, on thfund-raising banner that hangs from your church railings or noticeboard, anput it in the fund-raising brochure.

One recommendation from the big charities may help. People who choose tgive over the internet are often looking for speed and efficiency. They like tfind the donor button on the front page; they don't want to read lots oinformation about the church in order to give - they want to get on with it.

It is just possible, therefore, if we join in now, that we will be therwhen the breakthrough to serious internet giving happen

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