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Canadian FundRaiserInitiatives spark up services of national online portal

Canada’s free national online charitable giving portal, CanadaHelps.org, (CF October 31, 2003) is bringing new services to the country’s charities and their donors.

Hoping to catch the holiday giving period and the catch-up-on-my-donations-before-the-tax-year ends charitable impulses of the country’s donors, CanadaHelps has introduced gift cards.

The new Charity Gift Card is designed to allow people to purchase gift cards online and get a tax receipt for the full amount, but give it to a friend or family member to make the decision on which charity will receive the donation.

CanadaHelps will eMail the card to the recipient and the receipt to the donor. When the recipient comes back to the site to make the choice of charity, the organization will facilitate that process as well and remit the donation to the charity.

Although the facility was offered a bit late for holiday gift-giving except for those who leave everything to the last minute, Executive Director Jason Côté hopes it will help some donors out of that “what do I do for so-and-so” quandary, and that others may use it for end-of-year gifts.

Encouraging writers

To market the new service, CanadaHelps, which has, Côté notes, “not a lot of financial resources” has sent out press releases and provided sample cards for some writers to use so they can understand the process and write about it.

It will also run a viral campaign, eMailing supporters and regular donors and asking them, if they find the facility attractive, to send the news to their own networks.

Coming early next year is another service for donors for which Côté has high hopes – personal giving pages, like those which are conventionally set up by such charities as the CIBC CBCF Run for the Cure, or the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

With these pages, an individual would be able to design the page and invite friends and family to support any cause s/he cared about, whether that was an event in which s/he was participating but whose sponsors didn’t have a personal page facility, or perhaps celebration of an occasion like a birthday or wedding, where donations would be invited instead of gifts.

Why I care

Even if the person wanted to support a cause like South Asian relief following last year’s tsunami, s/he could set up the page to direct donations to the appropriate relief agencies, but giving the message that personal fillip of “this is what I care about”.

The facility would also be useful for a giving circle (those ephemeral beings – CF November 30), Côté suggests; they could set up a page and ask supporters to pledge back through the site.

Donations received this way will be handled like all others that come through the site – the money will go to the designated charity, the receipt directly to the donor. In addition, the person whose page it is will get as much information about who has responded positively to the invitation as is consonant with our privacy laws.

Celebrating its five-year anniversary, CanadaHelps will this year process more than $10 million in online donations.

Why not sign up?

It is still a mystery, as Canadian Fundraiser noted two years ago, that not all of the country’s registered charities register with the site in order to place the “donate now” button on their web site and receive donations more quickly.

As we said then, “the fact is that this three-year-old (now five-year-old) open-to-all nonprofit donation portal has facilitated more than $3 million in donations (now more than $10.5 million) from more than 13,000 different donors (now 35,000) to more than 2,500 charities (now 5,000) – with very little participation from the charities concerned (ie many of the donations are sent to designated charities even though they have neglected to register).”

Although all charities registered with Canada Revenue Agency are listed on the site, those which register – FREE – can list their mission statement, values and vision, contact information, and anything else they feel would attract donors.

Come, then stay

One of the interesting developments Côté has noticed in the last few years, and which should encourage charities to be sure they get themselves registered, is that people who come to the site to make one donation – ie through a particular charity’s donate now button – find they can quickly and conveniently give to multiple charities or arrange monthly donations with an annual tax receipt all at one site and in one sitting.

Many have developed the habit of directing their end-of-tax-year multiple donations through the site, rather than sitting down December 31 and writing 10 to 20 cheques.

Although the organization has no way of tracking exactly how many regular donors have been acquired this way, he says it does know that about 50% of its visitors come through registered charities and about 50% come directly to the CanadaHelps site.

For further information: Jason Côté, Executive Director, CanadaHelps.org, 130 King St. W., Ste. 2370, Box 142, Toronto ON M5X 1C7, 416/628-6945, fax 416/628-6949, [email protected], www.canadahelps.org.

Canadian FundRaiser
Canadian FundRaiserSince 1991, the Canadian FundRaiser™ newsletter has been updating nonprofit managers twice-monthly on news, trends, tips and analysis of developments in the fields of fundraising and nonprofit management.

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