Online Giving Grows

by Jenn Hatch

If you’ve seen an increase in online contributions, you’re not alone: a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that online donations rose 14 percent from 2011 to 2012, far outpacing the 1.5 percent increase seen in off-line giving from individuals, corporations and foundations.

In a world where we can reload a parking meter or pay for a cup of coffee from our phones, what can nonprofits do to capitalize on this online-giving trend? In short, make it simple, efficient and mobile-friendly. Here are some highlights from the study:

Go Mobile

The American Lung Association, which gets 29.6% of its donations online, saw a spike in online giving after revamping their website and email appeals to display well on mobile devices. In addition, other groups like Young Life added quick-response (QR) codes to their printed promotional materials to accommodate potential donors on the spot.

Offering mobile giving options has an added benefit: the Environmental Defense Fund found that first-time donors who gave online made a contribution nearly double that of donors who gave their first gift after a direct mail appeal ($40-$50 online vs. $20-$25 direct mail).

Go Monthly

As monthly givers are often the most reliable donors, many nonprofits have re-designed their online giving pages to promote monthly, quarterly or even semi-annual gifts. Giving members the option to renew their support online with a monthly gift is another way to increase overall contributions.

Be Social

Many groups use Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking sites to share their impact stories, but several nonprofits have taken these to the next level by having supporters reach out online to their friends and family. For example, the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation paired updates about hospital news, new medical techniques and success stories with end-of-year fundraising appeals to raise over $8,000 from a network of 60,000 Facebook fans.

Online fundraising offers donors a simple, efficient, timely and “green” way to support causes they are passionate about. And as this trend continues, its more than likely that the next generation of donors will make online giving the norm. So check out our past tips on “Growing Your Nonprofit Online” and stay tuned for more trends in the Millennial generation this fall.

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