Giving through charity websites grows

Donors, including a growing number age 60 and older, increasingly prefer to give through a charity’s website, often motivated by requests through direct mail and social media, a new study says.

As a results, “it is vital for charitable organizations to ensure they have created an easy and effective online giving experience for donors,” says the study by Dunham+Company.

From 2010 to 2013, roughly one in two donors gave through charity websites, says the study, The Growing Importance of Charity Websites to Philanthropy.

The study was based on Dunham+Company studies in 2010, 2012 and 2013 that were part of an online Campbell Rinker Donor Confidence Survey each of those years of 510, 494 and 514 adult donors, respectively, who gave at least $20 to charity the previous year.

Donors age 60 and older represented the only demographic group that showed consistent growth in giving through charity websites for the period, with the share of donors that age who gave through charity websites increasing to 47 percent from 37 percent for the period.

In comparison, the share of donors under age 40 who gave through charity websites fell to 50 percent from 55 percent.

Giving through charity websites “is no longer the realm of the under-40s but is also the world of the over-60s,” the study says.

That’s important, it says, because research by Bank of America shows donors age 60 and older give more to charity than any other group.

What’s more, the study says, the number of donors age 65 and older giving through charity website has grown to nearly one in two in 2013 from roughly one in  three  in 2010.

All three studies found female donors are more likely to give through a charity website than male donors, with 53 percent of female donors giving online in 2013, compared to 44 percent of males.

Roughly one in three are motivated to give through a charity website by an in-person solicitation to support a charity, the study says.

And one in five donors say that when they want to give a gift that is not motivated by any particular communication from a charity, they decide to fulfill the gift by going directly to the charity’s website.

That tendency is strongest among donors under age 60, with nearly one in three donors saying that is their preference, compared to roughly one in five among donors age 60 and older.

And donors age 60 and older have shown the greatest growth since 2010 in the preference to give online, with nearly one in three preferring to give that way, up 55 percent from 2010.

Eighteen percent of donors say they have given through a charity’s website as a result of someone asking them through social media. In comparison, donors did not respond to social-media requests for support from the charity itself.

And 17 percent of donors say that, as a result of receiving an appeal letter through the mail from a charity, they fulfilled their gift by going to the charity’s website.

The older the donor, the study says, the more likely she is to give that way in response to direct mail, with one in four donors age 60 or older saying they responded to a direct mail appeal by going to the charity’s website to make a donation, compared to one in five donors ages 40 to 59.

In comparison to the 17 percent of donors prompted by an appeal letter through the mail to visit a charity’s website to give, only 2.7 percent of donors were influenced to give that way by an email message.

And the amount of online giving driven by email messaged fell by over half since 2010, the study says.

The rate at which direct mail influenced online giving grew to 6.3 times the rate of at which email messages influenced online giving in 2013, compared to 3.4 times the rate of email messages in 2012, and 2.3 times the rate of email messages in 2010.

Among recipients of direct mail solicitations, 44 percent gave through a charity website in 2013, compared to 41 percent who gave by mail and 15 percent who gave some other way.

Todd Cohen

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