British Charities missing the online buck

UK charities are taking their time to get wired, says an expert.

A leading Internet fundraising consultant believes the lack of an official Web site to handle donations for the rescue operation in Turkey is symptomatic of UK charities' slow adoption of the Internet.

The British Red Cross, in charge of the international rescue operation , currently has no facilities for donations over its Web site, even though it has been inundated with telephone donations. A spokesman for the Red Cross said this was due to a lack of resources, but if an official international appeal is announced, an online donation form would be produced for the first time.

Howard Lake, fundraising-consultant and editor of online fundraising newsletter Fundraising.co.uk, believes British charities should copy their transatlantic counterparts. He says, "All charities should definitely be using the Internet more. The American Red Cross was the first charity to do this and it was making $1m per month back in 1992."

Lake blames technophobia for the situation. "Some UK charities have used the Internet but a lot have been relatively slow to respond. Some managers don't seem to be aware of the possibilities and Web sites are often focused more on information. Also I think some charities are still afraid that it's not secure to make transactions via the Internet, which is of course not true."

If you have a donation to make to the Red Cross, please contact them the Turkish Earthquake appeal line, at 0171 201 5250, or for more information go to http://www.icrc.org/eng.

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