The Online Giving Study

Our friends over at Network for Good have released a new study on online giving. This isn’t just another study about the rapid growth of online giving – it’s a call to reinvent donor relationships. Partnering with TrueSense Marketing, the study examines the online giving experience not only on nonprofits’ websites, but also via donation portals and social networks, and finds it is directly tied to donors’ likelihood of giving more – and more often.

Key findings include:

  • Fundraising is still about relationships. Just as the strength of the donor-charity relationship heavily influences offline giving, the online giving experience has a significant impact on donor loyalty, retention, and gift levels. Small improvements to the online experience can make a big difference in donations.
  • Giving on social networks is significant, but donor loyalty is highest on charity websites that build strong connections with donors. Personality matters on these websites: The loyalty factor for donors acquired through generic giving pages is 66.7% lower than for donors who give via charity-branded giving pages.
  • Analysis of cumulative online giving (i.e., giving added up over time) via different pages powered by Network for Good shows that donors who gave via charity websites started at the highest level and gave the most over time. Those who used giving portals started lower and gave less over time. Those who used social giving opportunities gave the least initially and added little afterward.
  • Recurring giving is a major driver of giving over time and should be strongly encouraged in the giving experience.
  • Online giving spikes during the month of December and large-scale disasters. During disasters, donors are more likely to consider new giving options, while in December, they’re more likely to give based on relationships with the charities.
  • A third of all online giving occurs in December, and 22% of annual giving happens in the last two days of the year. Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. People give during work hours. There’s even a drop in giving during the noon hour. Most giving comes from the East and West coasts.

The full study and accompanying data, including stand-alone charts, are available on the study website.