Online Giving Comes To A Crossroads For Nonprofit Organizations

By eleventy marketing group

Online Giving to Nonprofit Comes to a CrossroadsThe Chronicle of Philanthropy recently revealed some new statistics on the prevalence of online giving in 2013. The overall online fundraising results fall along the same lines as stats from the 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study. But The Chronicle’s findings come with a caveat: The days of surging online giving growth may be behind us.

Results of this new study derive from a survey sent to the “Philanthropy 400”, which is The Chronicle’s ranking of top nonprofit organizations based on annual fundraising dollars. One hundred (100) nonprofits completed the survey, and the report figures are based on their responses.

In today’s post, we’ll look at a handful of significant online giving stats from The Chronicle study—along with what they mean for your nonprofit moving forward.

6 Notable Online Giving Numbers from The Chronicle Study

13% increase in online giving in 2013 over the previous year

$98 million in online contributions received by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2013

Only 2% of overall private donations to nonprofits came from the Web in 2013 (based on reporting from 76 nonprofits)

6 charities in the survey doubled their online fundraising in 2013 from the previous year

296% increase in online giving to the University of Michigan (to almost $20 million)

5 organizations reported single online donations of more than $100,000 in 2013

What These Numbers Mean for Nonprofits Moving Forward

Make no mistake about it, online giving continues to grow. Multiple reports from 2013 have confirmed that. But these recent findings point to the notion that online fundraising for nonprofits may have come to a crossroads. Essentially, the novelty of online giving has worn off and nonprofits now find themselves faced with a new set of challenges.

Here are three important takeaways on the state of online giving in 2014:

1. Online giving growth on a per-organization level is no longer a given. Like clockwork, online giving figures have risen in recent years—even during the economic downturn. While adoption of the Web as a common method of giving is still increasing, it’s not doing so in the massive numbers we’ve seen previously. That means organizations can no longer just expect their online numbers to rise based on donor adoption alone.

2. Competition for online giving dollars is heating up. There was a time not so long ago when simply having an online fundraising presence put your nonprofit ahead of the game. Those days are gone. People now expect every nonprofit to have a website donation page and an online giving option in all marketing. And most do. Like direct mail before it, the channel has become more crowded. That means organizations need to work harder to stand out in the digital space.

3. Nonprofits need to develop stronger online fundraising efforts. Showing up isn’t enough anymore. Organizations need to put more effort into driving online donations. You have to use email, social media, peer-to-peer fundraising—along with traditional marketing channels—in unique ways to prompt online giving. The Chronicle’s study found the charities that experienced the greatest success with online fundraising in 2013 did so through creative efforts.

For example: The University of Michigan raised $14 million of their $20 million in online gifts by allowing people to make “preferred seating donations” when buying season tickets. Moving forward, developing creative ways to encourage online giving will be essential for success.

Making Online a Bigger Piece of the Fundraising Pie

Perhaps the most telling stat from The Chronicle is how little online contributed to overall fundraising (just 2%). Typically, online giving is estimated to make up 10% or less of total giving to nonprofits. And those numbers haven’t budged for years—despite the increasing adoption of the Internet across all demographics. That points to the need for nonprofits to make a more aggressive effort to maximize online fundraising.

Like any other marketing channel, nonprofits need to be more proactive and strategic in their efforts to draw in new online donors and keep online donors coming back. Those organizations that do will see their online fundraising numbers continue to rise, while those that do not may see their numbers plateau—or even begin to decrease—in the next few years.

Related Links:

14 Online Fundraising Figures From 2013 Every Nonprofit Should See 

4 Tips For Enhancing Your Online Fundraising Efforts In 2014

13 New Nonprofit Numbers Detailing Overall Donations & Online Giving Growth In 2013

4 Creative Fundraising Ideas To Inspire Your Nonprofit Organization