The internet is officially no longer the realm of the young and techie. It's time for fundraisers to own their charity's online presence, says David Burrows.
For the last couple of years internet use has been growing fast amongst older people, but the proportion of older internet users was still relatively small. Cynics could still pigeonhole online as primarily being about the under 65s. In 2009 this cynicism appeared to be endorsed by a report on online usage which included the headline grabbing finding that 70 per cent of over 65s had never used the internet.
This week figures have been released that show either give a more balance picture – or show that times are changing – depending on your perspective.
Ofcom reports that 51 per cent of 65-74s and 23 per cent of 75 plus are now online at home. Seventy-four per cent of 65 plus online users describe themselves as confident online. Even social networking, which is often perceived as a youth pastime, has an increasing ‘grey’ following. One in five people aged 55-64 are now using social networking sites. This figure has leapt up from 13 per cent in only a year, so is likely to have reached one in four within the 12 months.
Of course online take up is heavily influenced by socio-economic factors – with 88 per cent of ABs online – and few of the very elderly and very poor are able or willing to join the internet age. Inequality and social exclusion among older people remain as much a feature of ‘online Britain’ as in the rest of society. However, this doesn’t stop us fundraising from older people offline, nor should it stop us fundraising from older people online.
So tell your trustees – online media is now mainstream, even among older supporters – who are very often the people who give cash and (ultimately) legacies. So if the fundraisers don’t yet ‘own’ your charity’s online presence it might be time that they did.