Church groups in MySpace funds race

Edmund Rice Camps is one of a growing number of small charities and church groups who have turned to the social networking website, MySpace, as a means of raising their profiles - and funds for their activities.

The Age reports that MySpace is revolutionising the way Melbourne's small charities organise and raise funds

Grassroots organisations and those without ready-made markets beyond small communities are increasingly using the site to raise their profiles and gather information on potential donors, with successful results, the paper says.

By creating their own biographies, charities immediately gain access to an unlimited amount of potential "friends", a list of their interests and a forum in which the charity can be discussed and promoted by links throughout the network.

While the cost of such advertising and market research would have been too high for many charities a few years ago, the free membership offered by the site makes it ideal for those without corporate sponsorship or paid staff.

Catholc group, Edmund Rice Camps, which takes disadvantaged children on holiday, established a MySpace profile last year and now has more than 500 friends.

Committee member Gerard Healy told The Age that the site and its electronic messaging system had changed the way the committee raised public awareness of fund-raising events.

"We can't afford expensive direct marketing," he said. "MySpace allows us to specifically target a market based on individuals' interests, something that would have been impossible five years ago.

"Before our last fund-raiser, we sent unique messages to people who had linked themselves to our site emphasising aspects of the event which matched the interests on their profile. By aligning ourselves with other profiles we have seen more people expressing an interest in us which will ultimately equate to greater revenue."

Mr Healy said it was hoped that by having the charity's profile displayed on other profiles it would go "viral".

"Because we are a charity people are quite happy to display us on their profile," he said.

iPods banned in some Catholic schools

Meanwhile, other new technologies are not proving so popular - at least with some Catholic schools who have banned iPod devices from their campuses.

Although many schools have embraced the iPod as an educational tool, St Kevin's College, Toorak and St Francis Xavier, Berwick, are among those who have banned iPods and other similar music devices.

Brian Burgess, president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, likened the opposition to iPods to the furore surrounding the introduction of calculators.

It's MySpace, my charity, your money (The Age, 4/3/07)
A boon or banned: schools divided on use of iPods (The Age, 4/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Edmund Rice Camps (MySpace)
Edmund Rice Centre

5 Mar 2007