As we have written before, we are a strong believer that all nonprofit organizations should have some type of vehicle for accepting donations online. Whatever country you are in, there are multiple providers and solutions to choose from – at least one will be right for your organization.

If you are still not on the bandwagon, we have some initial findings from software and service provider Blackbaud who has just released information on online giving trends for 2008. Compiled from over 2000 clients, here’s a look at some actual numbers:

Steady Annual Growth

Organizations had steady growth in their online giving through the first and second quarters of 2008. There was a slight decrease in online giving during the third quarter of the year, specifically the month of August. The final months of the year saw online giving rebound leading up to the typical end-of-year giving spikes. December and June were the two largest months for online giving.

Average Online Gift Growth

Nonprofits in the entire analysis had an average online gift of $152.12 in 2008. Nonprofits in the education, healthcare, faith-based and foundation sectors typically had much higher average gift amounts.

December Giving Trends

Nonprofit online giving in the last month of 2008 quadrupled in size compared to prior months. This is a trend Blackbaud has consistently observed for the past three years. December accounted for about 21% of the year’s transaction volume, but 48% of the total dollars raised. The average online gift for the month of December increased to $248.82 for the nonprofits in the entire analysis.

Keys to Success

Nonprofits typically focus on existing or lapsed donors during end of year appeals, and Blackbaud customers tend to use multi-channel campaigns (direct mail, telephone, web, email, etc.) as part of these fundraising efforts. This continues to be a winning approach to building a successful online fundraising program. Organizations using the Internet mostly for donor acquisition and without integrated strategies usually see higher attrition rates than other nonprofits.

Moving into 2009, the nonprofits that concentrate their efforts on their existing donor base and leverage integrated marketing efforts will do a better job of weathering the storm.