_Jason Côté is Executive Director of “CanadaHelps”:http://www.canadahelps.org/, a public charitable foundation that runs Canada’s only online giving website that provides access to all of Canada’s 80,000+ registered charities. As a social entrepreneur, he is personally committed to helping mission-based organizations use information technology to support their work._
*One Degree:* “Jason, do you feel that Canadian charities should be doing more to leverage the Internet, and if so, what should they be doing?”
*Jason Côté:* The Internet is a potential windfall for charities both for short-term fundraising objectives and more importantly, long-term relationship building. The bottom line is that if you’re a charity and not fundraising online, you’re not only missing a significant audience segment, but the most cost-effective medium for building donor relationships. Online fundraising can be done more cheaply than offline because donors can be acquired and retained with lower production costs and no postage or telemarketing costs. Here’s “an example of the impact of online versus offline to a charity in New York.”:http://www.changingourworld.com/site/PageServer?pagename=cl_cs_ephilanthropy_wfan_clients
Many Canadian charities, especially the smaller ones, are still struggling with the classic lack of time, money, and expertise. Larger charities with resources are doing a great job; have a look at “World Wildlife Fund Canada’s Save Our Climate website”:http://www.wwf.ca/HowYouCanHelp/SaveOurClimate/. The site mashes information about the campaign with the reasons why donors have given in a beautiful Flash-based interface. I made a donation; you can search for my name (see the search bar at the bottom of the page) to see what I wrote in the sky.
In other words, charities with deeper pockets and access to expertise have learned just how powerful the benefits of going online can be and are expanding their online initiatives. The fundraising sector has evolved and is more focused on building long-term relationships than transactional activity, and the Internet has driven much of this shift; the “Kintera/Luth Nonprofit Trend Report”:http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3574061 found that more than 65 percent of donors visit at least one of the websites of the charities they support, and 40 percent always go online before making a giving decision.
The next wave is to extend the benefits of this technology to smaller, primarily volunteer-run charities, and that’s where organizations like CanadaHelps come in. Why and how people give online is something we are closely examining over the next year to see how we can leverage the Internet’s power of community to help organizations that are doing some of the most important work in the country to increase their revenues and expand their efforts.
CanadaHelps’ role is to enable donors to reach charities, and vice versa, by leveraging online giving. Our donation service is available for all Canadian charities with no setup fees and no annual charges, and charities are only charged when a donation is made.
To help resource-strapped charities create more effective campaigns and assist them in using the Internet more effectively, CanadaHelps is looking at expanding its services this year. Our first step in this initiative is to assemble an advisory panel of charities that are looking to improve their online fundraising. We are looking for interested charities now, so I encourage executive or fundraising directors to “contact me”:http://www.canadahelps.org/AboutUs/presskit_biographies.aspx if they are interested in participating on the panel or in a pilot program.