Ryan Garnett   

How Fast is Your Online Giving Really Growing?

by Ryan Garnett on April 19th, 2017
If you’re like most charities you’re seeing growth in your online giving. How fast is it growing? 10%? 20%? Maybe 50% year over year? No matter the figure I’m sure there are people in your organization (including probably your board, and maybe your boss) who are asking how you can better utilize online and social media channels to find more younger, millennial donors. Simple, right? Online donations are growing, and we know that younger people tend to donate online, so if you just spend more money on digital advertising your program will grow. Won’t it? Unfortunately it’s not that easy. That’s because we need to look at the true source of online donations. While online giving is growing for almost every organization, that’s not necessarily because of online fundraising and marketing efforts. Here’s a few examples from our clients of why we need to look a little deeper into online revenue, before making any decisions on where to allocate resources:
  •  For one international development organization HMA discovered that 91% of their online donations, came from donors who were already being mailed as part of the direct mail program.
  • For a children’s charity, HMA found that 73% of online donations were received from donors who already existed in the direct mail program.
  • And for another national organization, HMA found that while only $12,000 had been given via the specific URL provided on the direct mail pack, an additional $190,000 was given by direct mail donors through the regular website.
So what does this mean? Most importantly, it means that to increase your online giving you need to continue to invest in direct mail, and other traditional sources of fundraising revenue. Yes, you should be sending regular e-mails. And yes, you should post regular updates to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. The more integrated the messaging across channels, the better results you will see. But you shouldn’t re-allocate all of your resources to online just because that’s your fastest growing revenue channel. Your online donation form is used by many of your older, traditional donors because it’s convenient for them. And your older donors are also increasingly likely to be connecting with you on social media. In fact, the fastest growing group on Facebook is the 65+ age group. That group has seen a 30% increase in usage in the past year. And 62% of online adults 65+ now use Facebook. Now, what about those millennial donors? If most of the online revenue is coming from older donors, how can you find these younger millennial donors? Well, the truth is that they’re not donors, at least not yet. Millennials want to make an impact. They’ll be happy to share your content through social media, and participate in an event to raise money from their friends and family. But they don’t have the financial resources to make a donation to you right now. So rather than focusing on trying to get money from this group, focus instead on engaging them in your cause. Provide them with ways to share your mission, and the impact your organization makes, with their family and friends. Most importantly – show them how their support (whether financial or not) has made an impact. Because if you’re able to engage them now, and keep them interested in your cause, they will donate to your organization in the future. And one important note – before you spend any money or time investing in digital (or offline) fundraising make sure that your online donation page is well designed. Keep it to 12 fields or less. Ensure it works on mobile phones and tablets. Include a PayPal or Interac Debit payment option. And test it on multiple devices to ensure every donor (especially your older donors) will be able to easily complete their online donation.

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