(originally posted on BlogBaud)
Yesterday’s 2008 Digital Communications for Charities Conference here in London was pretty interesting. A very big crowd, some good presentations, and a lot of great discussions. The panel discussion about transparency got rather spirited as everyone seemed to have an opinion about what and how much to disclose to supporters. It also seemed very clear that not-for-profits in North America share some of the same challenges and questions as those in the UK and Europe.
To get a better perspective on things across the pond I reached out to one of the local experts. Howard Lake launched UK Fundraising in 1996 and it’s one of the most respected sites in the UK covering the Third Sector. We met at Blackbaud’s European Conference last October. Here are some brief questions and answers that we exchanged this week:
Q: ”The New Year always brings an opportunity to try some new approaches and techniques. What new trends in online fundraising are you seeing in the UK?”
A: “I can’t say I can see any trends across the sector, but, as elsewhere, some charities are trying out the growing number of tools – Facebook etc, blogs, podcasts, user generated content/online communities, etc. But it’s still a minority interest. You’ll see some sites now offering links from content to the social networking/book-marking sites (e.g. Charities Aid Foundation, Institute of Fundraising) but it’s still very unusual to see those icons/links on charity sites. Also, RSS is being used more, but again, it’s primarily for press releases/front page news rather than across the site e.g. jobs, appeal updates etc.”
Q: ”The Institute of Fundraising has been leading an effort to make radical reforms to Gift Aid. What do you think the future holds for Gift Aid?”
A: ”I don’t expect HMRC or government to shift on this. They can still argue that the sector isn’t making anywhere near enough of the opportunity it presents.”
Q: ”Web 2.0, social networks, and people-to-people fundraising are still getting a lot of attention, but not-for-profits are still looking for results. Do you think charities in the UK have embraced these tools enough?”
A: “No. (smiling) I think, as in past uses of new media, many charities focus, understandably on a few key elements of online fundraising – online donations, promoting events, using Google AdWords. Now you’ll have a few developing a YouTube channel, or using the new MySpace nonprofit space, but will they also be encouraging supporters to share volunteer fundraising event experience/expertise on their website? Do they know if their fundraising news alerts are being distributed in RSS? Are they using any of the free online resources to find out about grant opportunities There are very few that seem to embrace or at least test the wider range. Even now, how many UK charities have a Facebook app, or even a Facebook page? So, still lots more to try, I’d say.