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Online fundraising in UK "18 months behind the US" says Alan Clayton

Alan Clayton, Director of Innovation at The Good Agency, has claimed that UK fundraisers have fallen behind their US counterparts by at least 18 months. The claim was made during a recent presentation of the interim report of an ongoing research project, combining research into donor values and motivations and online behaviour.

Clayton said: “People behave differently online than in the world of traditional fundraising. The Americans have worked this out and cracked the secret of turning traffic into donations. 85% of UK online fundraisers have still not discovered this secret.

“Simply applying direct mail methodology to the digital world does not work. People are more honest and more real online. They let their subconscious rule behind the anonymity of their keyboard. The broadcast ask is not as powerful as the peer-to-peer approach, and old fashioned brand-stamps are not as effective as genuine, passionate user-generated content.


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“We need to behave more like the Americans – their cultural directness, open expression of emotion and advanced understanding of technology are all characteristics the UK fundraiser needs to intuitively develop.”

The interim report was presented at the end of the first phase of a two year research project. One of the consultants working on phase two is Ted Hart, online fundraising expert from the US, who has been studying UK Internet fundraising since 2005.

Hart said: “In the last 18 months, charities in the UK have been making good progress using the Internet to maximise their fundraising potential. However, charities in the UK still lag behind the United States in key areas required for the integration of online and offline techniques. Social networking sites everywhere have made a big impact on the way organisations are communicating. The UK needs to learn more about how to turn these communications into funds.”

Hart and Clayton will be presenting ten key outcomes of their research and experience at Digital Leap, the conference for online fundraisers and communicators which is taking place in London on 15 June.