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FIA Conference 2014 > Blog > Digital Fundraising - Is it the way of the future, or just a fad?

Digital Fundraising - Is it the way of the future, or just a fad?

Digital Fundraising - Is it the way of the future, or just a fad?

Posted By: FIA
On: Fri 14 February 2014

It seems that this topic may be one of the most discussed and explored at FIA Conference 2014 and beyond! Our experts certainly had a lot to say on this one, and all of their contributions are filled with learnings and insights for charities and fundraisers:

Alan Clayton, Director, Clayton Burnett

It’s a very big part of the future (but not all of it) and is here to stay.  However, in the medium term it is likely to be more a lead generator than an income source in its own right.  Digital engagement followed by telephone conversion (and retention) will be the next big thing.

Dr Wendy Scaife, Senior Research Fellow, Australia Centre for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies QUT

I see digital as more a medium of fundraising – a channel for many kinds of fundraising and relationships – rather than thinking of it as a standalone fundraising vehicle.  So it is a most welcome and growing future addition to the ways we can communicate with supporters and potential supporters or stakeholders like government. 

Fundraising is storytelling and digital is another exciting and personalisable way to tell our organisations’ stories – complete with an instantaneous means to act when touched by one of those stories.  I love the ease that it often allows people when it comes to giving – and as every seasoned fundraiser knows: if giving is easy for people, it is more likely to happen.  So we have to invest in infrastructure and training to make sure there are not 53 clicks to get to the donation or 400 questions before our supporters get to the donation point. 

The task before us is to move digital from fad in many organisations to fulsome relationship channel that might operate across the range of fundraising vehicles from events to bequests.  It is the trigger that will force us to integrate our fundraising more and work from the donor perspective to make giving more user-friendly.  I hope it may also cut down some admin costs in fundraising if donors are happy to move to ways of giving that cost charities less to process. 

For those organisations whose stories do apply globally, it is an ultimate constituency builder – whether that’s giving the chance to plant a virtual tree or crowdfunding an innovative program.  It’s a new creative palette for fundraising to paint with.  Organisations ignore it at their peril – an online giving/fundraising presence is essential to a well-rounded fundraising effort.  Philanthropic foundations are also exploring more digital communication.  This is a new language we all must learn if we are not digitally native.

Bianca Ousley MFIA, Community Change Architect, Fish Community Solutions

The majority of the work I do now with clients has some aspect of digital, so I believe it's definitely here to stay. I'm sure it will continue to evolve into the future, so it's important charities try to keep up with these changes as best they can. Professional development opportunities like the conference can help with this.

Erica Myers Davis, General Manager, Fundraising & Community Relations

Prahran Mission

Definitely – it’s pretty straightforward and also incredibly cost effective. It’s also the way to go especially you want to attract a younger generation of donors, although some  baby boomers are pretty savvy with online banking and Facebook these days.

Viv Benjamin, CEO The Oaktree Foundation

Yes, Digital is the way of the future. But technology is just a tool to leverage relationships and facilitate connection.

It is not the strongest or smartest who survive, but those who are most adaptable to change. Growth comes not from defending our patch, but by inventing and creating opportunity to pursue our mission and cause

Luke Edwards, Director Elevate Fundraising

Digital is ‘a’ way of the future and one that will continue to grow in our daily lives. The biggest danger is that too many people get caught up in the innovation rather than understanding how to use each channel effectively to increase growth. You’re better off focusing your efforts on fewer channels and doing them better, than trying to spread yourself too thin across a wide range of channels.

Andrew Sabatino, Group Manager, Business Development

Guide Dogs SA/NT

I think digital will be a part of the future. Digital will continual to evolve and the current landscape of digital as we know it may seem out dated in the future. It certainly isn’t a fad considering the rate in which digital fundraising and peer to peer fundraising is growing. When we consider how important our digital devices are to society today, it seems hard to consider it just being a fad.

Kirsty Graham, Director of Philanthropy RSPCA Queensland

Digital is here to stay. Our existing and potential donors are online so we have to be too.

Graham McKern, Territorial Director Endowment Fund

The Salvation Army | Australia Southern Territory

Australian's are among the world's highest users of mobile phones - in fact 88% of the population use them according to Roy Morgan Research in 2011.  The Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index (AMPLI) undertaken in 2013 indicates that 76% of these mobile phone users have a smart phone, and in turn, 87% of these smart phone users look up websites.  Internet usage rates from Australian households using computers or tablets are equally world-leading.  This is no fad.  It's a pointer to our future.  I am not convinced that digital is the main game for raising funds, but it is a channel that cannot be ignored by fundraisers to disseminate information quickly and efficiently.  The messages delivered can encourage spontaneous response and can be powerful when coupled with more traditional channels.

Sharon Wangman, Bequest Manager, Melbourne Football Club

We must keep up with technology, social media will continue to grow in various forms, if we’re not on it, we will miss out on opportunities to promote our cause.

Amel Bendeddouche, Fundraising Consultant Ask2


I think digital will have to start making some serious money if it wants to compete with direct mail, face to face, or telemarketing. I’m often amused when those proven media are described as ‘tired’ or ‘old school’, yet they rake in lots more money than digital. They are obviously engaging the public much more effectively.

Fiona McPhee, Fundraising Strategy Director

Pareto Fundraising

Digital is part of our evolution, it’s not the ‘be all and end all’ but it’s an essential part of our societies media consumption and how we adapt to what our audience wants and needs in regards to the use of digital will be the difference between success and failure.

What is your experience with Digital Fundraising, we would love to know if it plays a big role in your overall strategy and if you agree with our speakers that it is not going anywhere soon?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page:

What do you think?





Digital is here to stay - we'd better learn to live with it / harness it…produce good outcomes from it for the people/causes whom we're here to serve

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