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Social media – raising funds, setting standards

“Social media is fast becoming one of the easiest and most effective ways to encourage people to donate to a charity, particularly for peer-to-peer fundraising,” said FIA chief executive officer, Rob Edwards. “As the fundraising peak body, we were concerned there were no guidelines in place for our members or for the public on this fast-growing fundraising practice. The public can now be confident their online donation will be ethically raised and managed by charities belonging to FIA.”

FIA counts 1500 individuals and 200 organisations as members, including The Salvation Army, Australian Red Cross and The Heart Foundation.

Among these organisations is Redkite, a national cancer charity supporting children and young people with cancer, as well as their families. Redkite’s national and NSW offices are located in Redfern. This year, Redkite has been using social media to promote its 12 Gifts of Christmas campaign, where donors can go online, and instead of buying presents, give to Redkite on behalf of loved ones.

Redkite national brand and marketing officer, Isobel Lindley, said that the organisation was pleased the FIA had introduced the guidelines for social media fundraising, as it allowed Redkite to ensure its evolving social media policy was of a high standard. “We want our donors to feel 100 per cent secure when donating to Redkite. These standards give us confidence that we’re operating to the highest ethical standards.”

Derek Glass, FIA member and Principal of Redfern-based fundraising agency Ask2, said that, although the guidelines would benefit charities embarking on a social media fundraising campaign, the method was still in its infancy. “It [social media] would be, for most charities, less than 5 per cent of their income,” Mr Glass said. “However, it would be the fastest growing form of fundraising that they have at the moment. So, other things like face-to-face fundraising or direct mail, may provide about half their income, but their potential to grow is limited because they have already grown.” Mr Glass said that, rather than raising funds, social media for Australian charities was still primarily about raising awareness and creating a following.

Pareto fundraising co-founder Sean Triner offered a similar opinion. “In Australia there is not enough data available to prove categorically that social media accounts for less than 5 per cent of donations but it is almost certainly true,” he said. “However, social media is not a fundraising device on its own – it should be seen as one of many communication tools available to charities.”

“For Redkite, social media is about much more than fundraising alone,” Miss Lindley said. “It’s a way to share and talk with people about many topics, including services for families, what other charities are doing, what our supporters are doing, events that are coming up and also fundraising.”

Mr Edwards said people considering donating on social media can look for the FIA logo to be confident their donation will be ethically raised and managed.

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