Editorial by Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children
This week is "Get online" week with millions of people in the UK being encouraged to take up the internet. The campaign is trying to explain to people the benefits of using the internet for research, shopping and entertainment and it highlights some of the advantages over traditional ways of doing things. However in my view the "Get online" organisers have missed the incredible benefit to charities from donors who choose to give to charities online. Donors can save charities millions of pounds by just saying no to Direct Mail or "Charity muggers" but giving online instead.
We have recently explained how using the internet has helped SOS Children greatl increase the proportion of income going to the children who need it. By focusing on the internet as the main way to tell donors about our work, SOS have reduced waste and grown income. In the editorial "Anatomy of an Internet Charity" I commented that the costs of generating funds for children in need were a few pence in the pound online versus for example more than 40p for typical charity direct mail. Perhaps the "Get online" organisers missed this angle because it is the charities, not the donors, who save so much money when donors give online; but if so they are missing the point about charities. People do not give to charities for themselves, they give to help the cause and reducing wastage in the charitable sector is something many people care about.
The other big benefit of the internet is that it is hugely more respectful to givers. We do not intrude on their privacy, donors come to the our charity's website when they are ready and interested to learn about what we do and how they can help. People do not always wish to have distressing images pushed into their private homes through the letterbox or through adverts. People do not always wish to be stopped on the street when they are thinking about other things, or phoned at home when they are busy.
SO I encourage everyone to get online, it will enrich all our lives but it will also help provide more money to children with little hope food or love who need our help. And if you really want to hit the maximum gain for children for the minimum admin, banking and fundraising costs I would encourage you to sponsor a child online.