The Time is Ripe for Ramping Up Online Giving

Smart tactics to widen the funnel of Web-based donations

The horizon is looking brighter for nonprofit fundraising when it comes to getting ahead in charitable giving, as overall donations to organizations grew for the third consecutive year. And online gifting is gaining momentum, as more and more donated dollars come through the virtual funnel.

According to the latest figures reported in Blackbaud’s “The Charitable Giving Report,” fundraising for nonprofits overall last year benefited from an uptick in giving despite concerns about the economic recovery and a decline in big-budget, white glove events. As noted in “Study: Giving Showed 2.1% Hike for 2014” in The NonProfit Times, contributions to the nearly 5,000 nonprofits surveyed increased in 2014 by two-plus percentage points from the year prior.

This progress is punctuated by remarkable progress in online giving in particular. More than 3,700 of the organizations taking part in the survey received greater than $2 billion from online fundraising alone in 2014. In fact, online giving grew by nearly 9 percent last year, adding fuel to 2013’s incredible 13.5 percent year-over-year growth in online giving.

Ostensibly, everyday altruistic individuals are responsible for the lion’s share of online contributions to nonprofits. After all, the generosity of people, not foundations or corporations, accounts for more than 70 percent of charitable giving. So connecting with these audiences is fundamental for organizations that want to continue to stimulate and corral cash online.

When it comes to bolstering and maintaining online giving, nonprofits can leverage momentum and amplify action by following these tips:

Make it all count. Don’t implicitly pressure individuals to give a certain minimum amount. Instead, focus on the positive return that every dollar and cent supports. Even in today’s improving national economic climate, there remain no shortage of reports about unemployment and underemployment, the toll of student loan debt and wage stagnation.[tweet bird=”yes”] Empower givers at all levels to feel included and impactful.[/tweet]Make it secure. Just as in all online transactions, consumers – and in this case, donors – need the assurance that their information is secure. Organizations should verify that their donation pages feature a security certificate, effectively padlocking and protecting their donors’ financial and personal information. According to the Nonprofit Technology Network, organizations should focus on the security fundamentals, keeping compliance and regular, rigorous security testing high on the priority list.

Make the organization accountable. Being transparent is tantamount to positive donor-organization relations. Forthrightly inform your donors about where their contributions are being steered or how their invaluable dollars are improving lives and bettering communities. Do so qualitatively through real-life examples and storytelling, and quantitatively through easy-to-understand metrics and accounting.

Make the most of current events. According to Blackbaud, the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised awareness – and funds – for ALS was among the most notable fundraising successes of the year. Monitoring and reacting to the news cycle can be a prudent way for nonprofit organizations to capitalize on the momentum of immediate opportunities amid a culture with an ever-shortening attention span. Mine the headlines and listen to online conversations to uncover trending topics and popular themes (or memes) that captivate the social conversation and conscience. Also, be actively engaged in the news cycle, on the lookout for cross-over incidents, crises or events that dovetail with your organization’s battle cry. Develop hastags and handles accordingly to make searchability and online connections easy.

Make it year-round. According to Blackbaud, pocketbooks tend to tighten and wallets open less often as the year winds down. Giving declines in December, likely due to other spending priorities and pressures. So organizations should perhaps lessen the perception of a last-minute “year-end push” in favor of a balanced, consistent emphasis on donor outreach year round.

Developing and sustaining giving pipelines with individuals can be quite beneficial in the aggregate. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, based on data collected for the 2008 Nonprofit Almanac, the average household that supports nonprofit organizations contributes $1,872 per year, or 2.2 percent of income. Interestingly, households that support faith-based causes give approximately twice as much to religious organizations than to secular ones – averaging donations of $1,703 for religious organizations compared to $863 non-religious ones.

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