Online Fundraising In 2008: Can We Blink Yet?

The Internet may not have turned out to be everything charities (and the rest of the world) thought it would be 10 years ago. However, Harry Lynch, CFRE, chief executive officer of Sanky Communications in New York, reminds fundraisers that they shouldn’t forget what the Internet has become—especially for groups most likely to give.

“Back in ancient times—say around 1998—we all knew that the Internet was going to take over the world. Remember that? How obsolete and uncool was everything else, including every other fundraising medium and method, about to become?

It wasn’t to be, of course. Not even close, in fact. Yet even the naysayers, who have a decade’s worth of history and hindsight on their side, would do well to stop and take note of just how far we have come in just 10 short years.

The approximately 50-fold increase in the amount of money being raised online over the last decade is eye-popping. While the Internet may still represent less than 4 percent of the nearly $300 billion being donated annually in the United States, if the rates of growth hold up, well, you do the math.

Of course, there’s also the often-overlooked fact of who is now online. Fully one-third of people over 65 (READ: those most philanthropically inclined) are now active on the Internet. Plus, nearly three-quarters of those in the 50–64 age group (i.e. the folks making the most money) are going online regularly. That degree of Internet penetration among older adults is wildly ahead of what was projected just a few years ago.

There’s just no doubt about it: The future of online fundraising is clearly very bright—and very, very complicated.”

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