Online fundraising grows

Nonprofits continue to see growth in online fundraising, mirroring the growth rate for retail e-commerce, a new study says.

Online revenue for nonprofits in 2011 grew at a median rate of 15.8 percent, with 73.4 percent of all organizations raising more money than they did in 2010, says The Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study.

Median online revenue growth was down from 20 percent in 2010, when online giving surged in response to the Haiti earthquake and when special-event fundraising was higher.

The study, based on data from over 700 nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada that have at least 24 months of online usage data and raised a total of over $1.22 billion online in 2011, also says online fundraiser grew faster for smaller organizations than for larger groups.

Online giving grew at a median rate of 26.7 percent for nonprofits with files containing 10,000 or fewer email addresses, double the rate for nonprofits with over 250,000 email files.

First-time online gifts represented 37 percent of total median online revenue.

Median growth in online revenue from sustainer programs, which represented 6.9 percent of total online giving, totaled 38.7 percent, with significant recurring giving programs found in associations and membership groups, Canadian organizations, food banks and public-broadcasting stations.

The median donation size grew to $92.67, up 2 percent from 2010.

Online legislative advocacy grew a median of 17 percent, with advocates representing 12 percent of total email files.

And the median number of online donors also advocating grew 14.6 percent, while advocates that donate online grew 24.6 percent, a nearly four-fold increase from 2010.

Canadian nonprofits experienced a 77 percent increase in online advocates and a 7.4 percent median increase in the average monthly gift.

Based on data from eMarketer, the study says, growth rates for online fundraising roughly tracked growth rates for retail e-commerce – 27 percent, 16 percent, 14 percent , 14 percent, 20 percent and 16 percent for online fundraising from 2006 through 2011, respectively, compared to 23.5 percent, 20.8 percent, 18.6 percent, 17.2 percent, 16 percent and 15 percent for retail e-commerce.