The ePhilanthropy Foundation, the global leader in providing training to charities for the ethical and efficient use of the Internet for philanthropic purposes through education and advocacy, has provided online and offline educational services to more than 3000 individuals representing over 1200 organizations located throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa.
The Foundation was founded in 2000 by a coalition of nonprofit and for profit organizations dedicated to its mission of fostering the ethical use of the Internet for philanthropic purposes.
The ePhilanthropy Foundation has co-edited the book Fundraising On The Internet: The ePhilanthropy Foundation's Guide To Success Online, issued the ePhilanthropy Code of Ethical Online Philanthropic Practices, Tips for Online Giving, the ePhilanthropy Glossary of Terms, Don't Buy It Unless, Tips for Using Email, and the Ten Rules of ePhilanthropy Every Nonprofit Must Know.
GrantStation interviewed Ted Hart, President and CEO of the ePhilanthropy Foundation.
GrantStation: NGO's throughout the world are quickly embracing the Internet - seeing it as not only a source of information (such as the information we provide on GrantStation) but also as a means to raise funds. Let's focus this conversation on raising funds using the Internet. Are there any good models for how to effectively - and ethically - raise funds using the net?
Ted: There are many good models that have been developed around the world related to all types of fundraising and outreach efforts. In 2003 over $1.9 billion was raised online in the United States (representing about 50% of the global market), signifying a dramatic increase from $10 million raised in 1999.
The key to any strategy is careful planning, relationship building, and integration with offline efforts. This is the work of the ePhilanthropy Foundation. Through its global network of nonprofit and for profit practitioners, the Foundation brings together the best practices and provides training programs, both online and offline, that teach nonprofits/NGOs how to best utilize the Internet to build community, enhance communication, marketing and raise money.
Check out the recently published Fundraising on the Internet: The ePhilanthropyFoundation.Org Guide to Success Online, Second Edition. In this second edition Mal Warwick, Ted Hart, Nick Allen, and a sterling group of experts in the field have completely rewritten the first-ever hands-on guide for navigating the ever-changing world of fundraising on the Internet. This no-nonsense book gets beyond the hype and hyperbole, and takes into account the new realities of the post dot.com crash marketplace to offer solid advice on how to use technology to raise funds. To review the table of contents or order a copy, click here.
The Global eTour is a series of half-day seminars (all new for 2004) designed to help nonprofit organizations learn how to effectively use the Internet to build community and attract philanthropic support online. These sessions are offered in cities throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.
All training is provided by ePhilanthropy Master Trainers. In addition to case studies, best practices and 'hands on' tips for success, each presentation shares why 'THE RULES STILL APPLY' and the importance of the ePhilanthropy Code of Ethical Online Philanthropic Practices.
GrantStation: Is there one overriding challenge facing nonprofits as they move into this new world of using the net for fundraising?
Ted: There are many challenges facing nonprofits as they begin developing their ePhilanthropy strategies. Perhaps the most important is to realize that ePhilanthropy encompasses much more than just fundraising online, and in fact, should begin with solid communication and relationship building activities before fundraising is attempted.
GrantStation: Can you give me an example of not using the Internet correctly? What would be considered "bad manners" when fundraising on the web?
Ted: It would not only be considered bad manners to use someone's email address without their permission but it would also be against the ePhilanthropy Code of Ethics (http://ePhilanthropy.org/ethics).
GrantStation: Would you say most donors are wary of making online donations, and, if so, what needs to be done to address this fear?
Ted: I think most donors are not given adequate opportunities to support their favorite charity online. However, when they are provided the opportunity privacy and security concerns do come into play It is up to the charity to not only offer the opportunity to make a gift online, but to also help donors understand the high level of security provided online through encryption technology. This technology is available to charities for their use but often the charity does not understand the application, and therefore has a tough time relaying that information to the donor.
GrantStation: I think I would feel comfortable making an on-line donation of $25, $50 or $100, but if I were asked for a major gift - $500, $1,000 or even larger - it seems unlikely I would use the web to make that contribution. Does this seem to hold true? And is there a way to address this to make it more comfortable for individuals to make larger gifts using the web?
Ted: Gifts of $500, $1,000 and $25,000 or more are made online all the time. Donors make gifts online and offline for very specific reasons, more often than not because they were asked. Those with the ability to make a larger gift online will do so when they are properly motivated and can fulfill the desire to support their favorite charity through such a gift.
GrantStation: I know your newly published book (see sidebar) covers the ethics of fundraising online, but can you provide a few guidelines on how effectively, and ethically, to raise funds using the net?
Ted: There are important differences between an online relationship and a traditional offline relationship between donor and charity. For example, online donors should control the relationship they have with the charity, providing permission for communication and having the option to remove that permission at anytime (this same standard is not the norm in direct mail relationships). The ePhilanthropy Code of Ethics offers professional practice guidance on many related topics.
GrantStation: In the book you talk about the Emerging Gold Standard of Integrated Fundraising - what exactly do you mean by this?
Ted: To succeed online requires a strategy of integration of new online techniques with traditional offline fundraising tools. Through its ePhilanthropy Training Tour - eTour (http://ePhilanthropy.org/eTour) and its online training programs (http://ePhilanthropy.org/education) the Foundation offers training on use of these new techniques and integration with traditional offline efforts.
GrantStation: You also reference "regulating online fundraising" in the new book. What kinds of regulations do you think nonprofits can expect - and actually plan for - as they develop their online fundraising programs?
Ted: It is the position of the ePhilanthropy Foundation that regulation specific to ePhilanthropy is not necessary, instead we urge charities to follow the guidelines of the ePhilanthropy Code of Ethics and show that, as a community of nonprofits, we can treat donors and supporters well, online, without regulation.
GrantStation: So, the Foundation has really crafted a strong code of ethics - and you are encouraging organizations throughout the U.S., and internationally, to adopt this code of ethics. Do you think every organization should be moving into online fundraising? Will they be "left behind" if they don't embrace this method of soliciting support?
Ted: According to PewInternet.org 66 million Americans were online in 2003, on a typical day. This is a huge number of people who have integrated the Internet into their daily lives. Those charities that fail to engage their supporters, who are likely to already be online, do so at their own peril. Outreach, in some way, does not have to come in the form of an expensive online campaign. To begin by reaching out via email to educate and solicit a broader audience can be an important first step for charities, that will lead to more robust use of the Internet.
I think that every charity should, at the very least, begin communicating online and should then move toward fundraising online. Online fundraising is not quick and easy money, but instead an important and efficient set of tools that will allow even the smallest of charities to communicate, market, and fundraise better than they could with just traditional offline tools.