Last week, Network for Good released The Online Giving Study: A Call to Reinvent Donor Relationships in conjunction with TrueSense Marketing. The study examines $381 million in giving through Network for Good's platform, including 3.6 million gifts to 66,470 nonprofits from 2003-2009, and takes into account the online giving experience not only on nonprofits’ websites, but also via donation portals and social networks.
Some key findings include:
- 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 percent 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.
- A third of all online giving occurs in December, and 22 percent of annual giving happens in the last two days of the year. Online giving (by dollars) on Dec. 31 is concentrated between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
Based on the findings, here are four actionable tips for fundraisers to maximize e-philanthropy:
Encourage recurring gifts
Recurring giving is one of the key drivers of donor value, the study says. To encourage recurring gifts, nonprofits should:
- Always offer a recurring-gift option on your giving page.
- Make monthly giving easy because it is the most popular form of recurring donations.
- Present a compelling reason to give monthly.
Manage disaster giving
Smaller nonprofits should work hard to be featured on portals where they can gain visibility during large-scale disasters, and fundraisers should think beyond large-scale disasters as well. There are several kinds of disasters that can spur giving, including local severe weather incidents, disasters that affect your organization personally and foreign disasters that affect some part of your community. Institute a stewardship process for disaster-related gifts to improve the chances of retaining and upgrading those donors, the study suggests.
Maximize December donations
- Start early. You should start preparing for the end-of-year rush before Thanksgiving . During the last few days of December, make donation collection the focus of your homepage, and make your best offer to the donor.
- Prime the pump. Start building your e-mail list and donor relationships in the fall.
- Send several e-mails the last week of December. Go all out on social networks, and create a countdown campaign.
- E-mail early on Dec. 31. Mail in the morning so you'll be at the top of inboxes.
Cultivate donors from portals and social-networking sites
- Thank donors promptly and thoroughly.
- Keep your organization's profile up to date (contact info, mission, etc.).
- Unclutter your site. Make sure your homepage is clear, uncomplicated and designed to encourage giving from visitors arriving from portals.
Click here to download the full study.