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Accessibility opens the door to more effective fundraising campaigns

Let’s be honest, unless we have a personal link to the it, we don’t often think of accessibility issues. OK, maybe we consider it if there is an accessibility regulation we need to follow.

That’s a shame because this means businesses and fundraisers tend to think of accessibility as a cost rather than an investment. Based on the stats that follow, I would argue that you can’t afford NOT to be accessible to the vision impaired.

According to the CNIB:

  • Over 1 million Canadians live with blindness or partial sight and more than 510,000 of those live in Ontario.
  • The four most common eye diseases causing blindness and partial sight in Canada are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
  • Over 4.25 million Canadians (almost one out of every eight Canadians) are currently living with some form of these four diseases. Untreated, most of these people are at risk of blindness or partial sight.

Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan says we are missing a potential opportunity here.

There are 1.8 million people in this province with some sort of disability. By creating new products and services based on universal design it could mean a $600 a year per capita increase in the gross domestic product.

Those are big numbers.

This coming week Prime Data is exhibiting at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Congress in Toronto. Our theme this year is accessibility.

Why is accessibility such a big issue for fundraisers? The latest statistics from StatsCan indicate that people tend to become more charitable as they get older.

And if you take a look at the numbers I quoted above from the CNIB you’ll notice that the majority of the instances of visual decline are age-related.

It’s no secret that the majority of donors at most charities are women 65 and older. So fundraisers should be concerned when 6% of women 65 to 74 and 14.9% of women over 75 are identified with sight loss in the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey.

That’s a lot of people who simply can’t see what you’re sending them!

So fundraisers who are be able to provide increased accessibility to potential donors will be better positioned to increase response rates in campaigns.

Some simple ways to do this might include:

  • Increase font sizes on printed material and websites.
  • Refer to the accessibility standards for your area and use them as guidelines when building websites or sending email (for instance, tag all images).
  • Ask your donors if they need accommodation. Open a custom field in your database to track visual impairment in the way you track language preference and offer large print versions of your communications or email versions that can be read by voice apps. Remember that unlike language preference, this data point will change during a donor’s lifetime so it must be thought of as a dynamic data point (it could even return to “no” after medical treatment).
  • Use apps like VoiceEye to add the ability of the visually impaired to read paper documents using mobile devices and tablets. We have some examples of how this works at our booth.

There is more of course. And if you are curious about how you can make your targeted direct mail and other marketing materials more accessible to everyone then you can drop by our booth at AFP. And if you’re not attending the Toronto AFP Congress, please get in touch with me directly to discuss your accessible marketing options.

Steve Falk

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