Online giving is becoming more popular: donations via Web grew 14% last year

Emma Carew Grovum and Raymund Flandez, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 6/23/13

Online gifts to America's nonprofits are growing far faster than other types of donations, two new Chronicle studies find. Donations rose 14% last year from 2011, to $2.1-billion, in a study of 115,000 nonprofits whose giving totals were provided by the online-fundraising processors Blackbaud, Network for Good, and PayPal. That's far sharper growth than the overall rise in donations in 2012 reported by "Giving USA," which last week said that contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations rose just 1.5% last year after inflation. Among the techniques helping big nonprofits: Some are directing their data analysts to spot supporters who are active in online advocacy forums and figure out how to turn them into generous online donors, while others are taking a page from direct-mail appeals by seeking monthly donations. No matter how much online giving keeps growing, it still accounts for a small sliver of the budgets of most charities. [But] many groups are bullish about the potential for growth. Nearly three quarters of the groups surveyed say their goal is for online donations to account for more than 10% of their overall fundraising efforts in the next few years, and roughly one in five expect Internet gifts to account for as much as 20% of their overall donations by then.


15 techniques used by top nonprofits to boost online fundraising results

Frank Barry,, 6/24/13

Online fundraising isn't a fad. As a matter of fact, online fundraising accounts for 7% of total fundraising and has seen double-digit growth over the past four years. Online fundraising has also proven to be an extremely effective donor acquisition vehicle. Let's take a look at the fifteen most effective donor acquisition and online fundraising techniques used by top nonprofits:

1) Go Mobile, Now! It's estimated that mobile usage will surpass desktop usage within the year. That's right - this year! Are you ready? Boost online fundraising performance with donation forms that work well on iPhones, Androids & Blackberrys.

2) Grab People's Attention. You probably spend a lot of time driving people to your website, but visits don't equal dollars! Once you have people on your website, it's important that you draw their attention to your "donate now" button.

3) Make Sure it's Branded. Building your brand is tough. It takes hard work, strategic thinking, time and persistence- and not to mention, money. Which leads me to wonder ... Why leave your donation page lightly branded or, even worse, completely unbranded?

4) Use Compelling Imagery. People are visual beings. We like to "see" what we buy.  That's why online stores use lots of product images and why brick and mortar stores will never die. [Help] people "see" the value and impact of their donation.

5) Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. Most websites have a lot going on: Top navigation, search tools, email opt-ins, side bar navigation, ads highlighting programs, promotions for events, and much more. There's a time and place for all of those things, but the donation form isn't it. When someone lands on your donation form, they should see and experience a simpler page - one that makes completing the action of donating easy.

6) Reduce, Reduce, Reduce. People don't like to give away too much information or spend a lot of time filling out long forms. Be sensitive to this and make sure to limit your donation form to only the fields you need. My colleague Amy Bills has some additional questions you should ask yourself when determining how to simplify your donation form.

7) Use Giving Levels. Research has shown that suggesting giving amounts leads to improved donation form performance by increasing average online gift size. The goal is to get people to give larger amounts than they would if left to make their own decision.

8) Encourage People to Give Monthly. Getting a one-time gift is great, especially if that gift is a big one. But receiving a monthly recurring gift, even if for a smaller original amount, is so much better!

9) Give People a Way to Stay in Touch. If a person gets to your online donation form, pulls out their credit card and decides to give you money, it's likely they'd be open to hearing from you again. Take advantage of this opportunity you have to build your email house file by making it easy for people to opt-in when they donate.

10) Add Social Proof. Have you ever done a fundraising event? [They] do an excellent job of exercising social proof. In the context of online fundraising, social proof is showing potential donors that others have supported the cause and that money has been raised.

11) Put Security First. Financial transactions have become commonplace on the internet, but people still like to know that you're taking the appropriate precautions to ensure their information is secure. [Add] a simple Norton/Verisign logo to the bottom of [your] donation form and a BBB and SiteLock logo in the footer. Potential donors will see these signs of security as they're about to click the donate button, even if they are not intentionally looking for them.

12) Be Transparent. Nonprofits are being called to a higher standard of transparency because donors what to know how their money is being used and what type of impact your organization is making (Madeline Turner has a few thoughts on showing your impact). Share your financials freely.

13) Give Donors Something Nice. Giving donors a gift for making a donation is a great way to show donors (especially new ones) your appreciation while also providing them with a branded piece that will remind them of your nonprofit every time they use it.

14) Take Advantage of the Moment. You've got a great opportunity immediately after someone has given you an online donation. They've made a decision to invest in you and they've pulled out their wallet to do so. There are a two key places you can take advantage of this moment: [your] confirmation page and email receipt.Ask new donors to opt-in to your email and spread the word via social media right after they give.

15) Don't Forget About New Donors! Showing donors how their money is used can have a huge impact on donor engagement and long-term retention. People want to know how you've made the world a better place.


Warren Buffett's sister launches a free online philanthropy course

Carol Loomis, CNN Money, 6/25/13

The name Buffett is in the news, but the first name is Doris, not Warren. His older sister by three years -- that makes her 85 -- she is pursuing a decade-long interest by sponsoring a new, free, online course about philanthropy. The goal of the program, called Giving With Purpose is to teach college students -- and anyone else who cares to kibitz -- how to beneficially contribute to charity. That's not necessarily easy. There are IRS rules for giving that must be learned and there is wayward, wasteful philanthropy to be avoided. But for college students who apply themselves well in this new course, the prize at the end is real Buffett money to give away. The new online course (which starts in mid-July) will last for six weeks and provide university and college classes [a] chance to give away $10,000, upon their intelligently vetting one or more local charitable causes. Doris Buffett and a foundation she started in 2011, Learning By Giving -- which she funded with $5 million -- will be the overseers and arbiters of this work. The technology the program needs has been supplied by Google's MOOC, which stands for Massive Open Online Course. The six-week course covers all of the steps that a student requires to make informed judgments about giving away money -- for example, what impact does a charitable organization have on its community and what will be the impact of your money on the organization?  But guest speakers having a hands-on knowledge of philanthropy will also make video appearances -- among them baseball's Cal Ripken Jr. and ice cream's Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. The first speakers are Doris and Warren Buffett, who jointly discuss their philanthropic experiences. Doris notes she's businesslike in her giving, but has experienced "incredible joy" in carrying it out. Warren [adds] that "helping people achieve their potential is about as good as it gets."

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