Although giving slowed in summer 2011, online revenue was up 6%, 10/17/11

Chuck Longfield, creator of The Blackbaud Index, noted that although overall fundraising grew by a healthy 6.8% during June through August versus the same period last year, the Index showed growth slowing in July and now August.  "Not surprisingly, it appears that our country's continuing economic problems are once again weighing on donors' checkbooks," said Longfield. "Our data illustrates the challenges most nonprofits are likely facing as they try to achieve sustainable, consistent growth." The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving reports that online revenue increased by 6.1% for the three months ending August 2011, as compared to the same period in 2010. This trend is based on $426 million in 12 months' online revenue from 1780 organizations. The Index found that three-month online revenue for small organizations (prior year revenue of < $1 million) decreased .6% in August, while online revenue at medium organizations (prior year revenue of $1 - 10 million) decreased 3.3%, and online revenue at large organizations (prior year revenue > $10 million) increased 17%.

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Commentary: A new website to help the arts generate more giving & new donors

Scott Provancher, Americans for the Arts blog, 10/20/11

My colleagues and I at the Arts & Science Council have been closely following national and regional trends that affect the health of the arts industry. In particular, several trends have caught our attention:

1) arts giving in America continues to lose market share to other charities;  2) 85% of cultural patrons are not donating to the organizations they patronize; and  3) traditional campaigns seem to be making little progress in reversing these trends.

As one of the largest united arts agencies in the nation, we owed it to ourselves and the field to be a leader in addressing these issues both at a local and national level [and so] ASC launched a new website called, which we believe will change the way we do business forever.  Simply put, the site allows cultural nonprofits to post projects online and arms them with tools to market to their constituents through e-mail and social media. In addition to the individual organization's efforts, ASC helps to drive donations to projects by securing challenge grants (Knight Foundation is matching one to one all gifts up to $100,000) and selling gift cards to companies and individuals that allow others to give to projects of their choice. I am pleased to say that in the first seven weeks since the launch of the site in Charlotte, we have fully funded 37 projects, raised over $150,000, and attracted over 650 donors.  Several of the organizations who have posted projects have individually raised $15,000 or more and one group even reported that their $3,000 project was fully funded by ALL NEW donors! The strategy behind is based on research into the success and failures of other micro-giving and crowd-funding platforms (,, to name a few). What we have learned is that, if such a platform is going to be adopted by the arts community and generate new donors, it needs:

1) A local and hands on relationship with arts organizations  2) A strategy to engage major donors  3) Compelling projects, not generic asks

One of the reasons why organizations have not successfully used the Internet to generate giving (beyond the static donate now button on the website), is that the annual fund letter doesn't translate very well into the digital space. The power of communicating directly to arts patrons with tangible and compelling projects that they can feel an intimate connection with is beginning to really pay off for many of the organizations using Though the results are promising so far, we still have a long way to go to truly understand the impact of this new strategy. We are excited that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is generously supporting the expansion of the platform in Miami, which will launch on December 14. The knowledge we gain from Miami and several other city launches planned for the coming months, will allow ASC to better understand the potential of this site on a national scale.


An updated database of 100 online giving marketplaces

Lucy Bernholz, Philanthropy 2173 blog, 10/23/11

In December of 2009 I published a database of online giving marketplaces that was developed by a Coro Foundation Fellow working on behalf of the Hewlett Foundation. I'm pleased to provide this link to an updated database, also done by Hewlett. You should download this document rather than try to read it on the screen. It now includes 100 such platforms.


Over last 4 days, thousands donated $945,000 online to support artist Ai Weiwei

NTD Television, 11/8/11

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who has been ordered to pay $2.4 million for alleged tax evasion, has received about $945,600 over the Internet. On Friday, a handful of Ai's supporters began sending him "loans" over an online payment platform called Alipay. They call themselves Ai's "creditors." In a few short hours, donations came flooding in. Volunteers who have pitched in to help are keeping track of the donations in Ai's office. [Liu Yanping, Volunteer]: "As of last night at about 10 o'clock - that's in three and a half days from noon on November 4 - we have received over 5.6 million yuan in over 20,000 transactions." Another volunteer says the unpaid hours were worth it because he believes that his efforts are an important contribution towards the future of the Chinese people. [Zhang Haining, Volunteer]: "I want to stir the hearts of the Chinese people, and right now I hope that the Chinese people won't be too numb. If everyone makes their small contribution, I think it can become a powerful force - one that is fearless." Ai said authorities had not shown him evidence of the alleged tax evasion. He says he faces an agonizing choice: either pay the bill with a tacit admission of guilt or resist and risk imprisonment.

Tomorrow in Ohio, a 1-day online fundraising drive for 600 local nonprofits

The Columbus Dispatch, 10/31/11

The Columbus Foundation will put up $1 million in matching funds during a 24-hour, communitywide charitable event that officials are calling The Big Give. Anyone can donate during the drive, which starts at 11am on November 10 and ends at 11am the next day.  About 600 local nonprofits [including many arts organizations] are part of the Big Give and have created information profiles [in] the foundation's online "giving marketplace." Foundation president and CEO Doug Kridler said the Big Give comes as many charities are scrambling for dollars: "It comes at a critical time for our community's nonprofits, which have been working hard to meet increased demand for services in the aftermath of the recession." The match is pro-rated, which means it isn't necessarily dollar for dollar. For example, if $2 million is given during the 24-hour period, it will be divided by the $1 million available in the matching pool and every dollar donated will be matched with 50 cents. The minimum contribution is $20, and credit-card transactions are subject to a 3.3% transaction fee that does not provide income to the foundation. Kridler said the $1 million pot provided by foundation donors is a record for matching funds.

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