29/05/2007 - 22:00

Not for profit: Online presence lifts profile

29/05/2007 - 22:00


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Western Australian not-for-profit organisations are increasingly using the internet to communicate with their supporters and clients, particularly with regard to e-philanthropy and online giving.

Not for profit: Online presence lifts profile

Western Australian not-for-profit organisations are increasingly using the internet to communicate with their supporters and clients, particularly with regard to e-philanthropy and online giving.


For some organisations, e-newsletters provide an opportunity to maintain regular contact with members.


The National Heart Foundation Australia runs an online program from its WA office – the Australian Physical Activity Network (AusPAnet) – which provides a fortnightly e-news publication to its 1,802 national members.


The network is run from a website that is a sub-domain of the Heart Foundation’s website, and caters for health and sports industry professionals as well as people with an interest in physical activity.


AusPAnet national project officer Bree Olsen said the project, which is a partnership between the Heart Foundation and the University of Sydney, was a means of communicating new research findings into physical activity.


“People interested in physical activity did not previously have a national network, so this is a way of keeping abreast of the latest up-to-date information,” she said.


Ms Olsen said one advantage of the e-newsletter compared with a conventional letter was the ability to track recipients’ reading behaviour.


In addition, the Heart Foundation has an online donation program and is experiencing significant growth in its usage.


National Heart Foundation national fundraising director Jennifer Doubell said the amount of money donated online had doubled during the past year, with the organisation’s existing technology infrastructure unable to cope with demand.


“We’ve also seen the size of the average online donation increase and we get some quite large ones, around $10,000, particularly towards the end of the tax year,” she said.


“They tend to be bigger gifts than those by cash or cheque.”


The Heart Foundation also has an online facility for sponsorship and began using its website to recruit volunteers for the national door-knock appeal last year.


“We’re also looking to acquire donors online, so we’ve got banner advertising on websites, which we’re testing now,” Ms Doubell said.


However, for other organisations, online giving remains a minor source of donations.


Starlight Foundation national strategy manager – individual giving, Alex Green, said while the organisation accepted online donations, online giving was not an area of focus.


“Historically, people have been reluctant to give money online, particularly to charities, as there is a trust issue, although it’s not as strong now,” Mr Green told WA Business News. 


“You tend to have a higher attrition rate, because people change their email address more than their mailing address. If we did a donation drive by mail, 90 per cent of recipients would be there next year, whereas by email, a high proportion drops off.”


Mr Green said there was a demographic issue as well, as only a small proportion of Starlight’s supporters were users of the internet.


While online giving is yet to become a significant asset stream for the organisation, other uses of the internet are being explored, with Starlight being in the pilot stages of a nationwide service delivery model for its clients, to be launched later this year.


Other organisations are using the internet to manage elements of their business.


Last month, Guides WA adopted an online asset management and sharing system to manage its asset base.


The organisation, which has more than 5,000 items across over 400 sites in WA, is using a package designed by WA-based technology company, ClubAssets.com, which will allow its state-wide assets, including vehicles and equipment, to be managed under one system.


Guides WA volunteer Marg Mason said as many of the organisation’s assets were stored in volunteer’s homes or community halls, it was difficult to maintain a current list of assets.


She said the online system would enable a central register to be maintained easily and would allow leasing records to be managed centrally.



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