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Jocelyn Harmon 8 min read

The Online Giving Study: A Summary

Care2 is pleased to provide this overview of The Online Giving Study: A Call to Reinvent Donor Relationships just released by Network for Good and True Sense Marketing. The study, which you can download here, summarizes “$381 million in online giving through Network for Good’s platform, including 3.6 million gifts to 66,470 different nonprofits from 2003 – 2009.” Here are some key findings.

1. Online fundraising is all about relationships.

No surprise here. Similar to offline fundraising, online fundraising is all about relationships. What this means for you as a nonprofit? Use your website, in particular, and other Internet outposts as a way to build relationships with donors online. First, focus on making your donor experience seamless. Give five friends $10 each and watch them make donations via your website. Use this information to improve the functionality of your website and make it easier for donors to engage with you. Second, be sure that your brand is carried through your site to other giving portals. According to the study, “the more intimate and emotionally coherent the giving experience online, the stronger the relationship between donor and nonprofit appears to be.”

2. Your website is still your home base online. 


Until you master fundraising on your own site, you SHOULD NOT spend loads of time fundraising on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.  According to the study, “most charitable online giving ($244.6M or 64.1%) comes via nonprofit websites.” In addition, “donors who gave via charity websites started at the highest [giving] level and gave the most over time.”  This compares to giving via giving portals and social networks, which starts lower and adds less to your fundraising bottom line over time.

This begs an important question, how do you get more folks to visit and donate via your site?  Hint: Build an email list and aggressively market to this list.  

At Care2, we encourage all of our clients to have a plan in place for building an email list year-round.  This will help you raise more money and deal with list churn, which according to the 2010 eNonprofit Benchmark Study by NTEN and M+R Strategic Services can be almost 17% per year for nonprofits.  It will also ensure that you are ready to strike when your issue is in the news.

3. Fundraising is fueled by December and disasters.


If you didn’t already know this, December - particularly the end of the month - is a CRITICAL time for nonprofit fundraising.  According to the report, “for all the nonprofits using Network for Good’s giving portal, “22% of giving happens on the last two days of the year between the hours of 10am and 6pm in all time zones.”   This finding was echoed by the Convio study we reported on last week

You’ve simply got to get your website in shape for year-end.  Join us for the 2010 Procrastinator’s Guide to Year-End Fundraising (tomorrow!) for more on what you can still do to get your website ready for year-end.

Disasters also fuel giving.  An interesting finding of the study is that online giving portals are important after disasters because they aggregate giving options for new donors that may be unfamiliar with your organization.  Do you best to get listed/show up on these portals during disasters and then be sure to follow up with your new supporters!  “Many disaster donors are new or infrequent donors who don’t have relationships with charities.  Portals are a good way for them to find and give to appropriate charities.”

4. Recurring giving or sustainer gifts are key to your fundraising success.


If you don’t have a plan in place for monthly giving, develop one now.  “Especially on charities’ websites, recurring giving is a strong driver of donations.  About one in ten donors through Network for Good’s system give automated regular gifts.  Monthly giving is the most common frequency.”  In my opinion, CARE and Defenders of Wildlife do a really good job of offering monthly giving options online.  Check them out.

Download the full study here.

Happy fundraising!