Digitial media: put someone senior in charge

News online doesn’t just travel fast – it’s live. Twitter and other social media mean stories are published and read as they happen, which presents charities with a problem if they want to react quickly to events.

When news of the earthquake in Haiti broke on January 12, the American Red Cross didn’t hang around; it launched an email fundraising campaign three hours after the first story was published online, according to Thomas Gensemer, managing partner of digital media agency Blue State Digital, the company credited with the success of Barack Obama’s online election campaign.

I met him and his colleague, Matthew McGregor, the agency’s London director, last week and they explained why such organisational nimbleness is, for charities, in their words, “absolutely crucial to fundraising success”. Charities, they say, need plans in place to cut through hierarchies of sign-offs and approvals.

So what would a digital media-ready organisational structure look like?

McGregor describes digital media as “a thread that should run through the whole organsiation.” Gensemer suggests a senior member of staff coordinate digital media across all departments, including fundraising, press and so on. That way, he says, it’s taken seriously.

“It’s likely to be where we’ll be in a couple of years time,” he says.

Will senior charity executives take digital media seriously enough to take the tip now?