Online giving represents only 2-3 percent of the $200 billion in charitable giving by individuals in the United States, but it’s expected to increase rapidly as more and more donors come to value the efficiency and security of online transactions.
It hasn’t grown faster, I believe, because a lot still stands between the initial motivation to give (that heartbreaking story on NPR about homeless children, for example) and the actual movement of charitable dollars. A donor is required to fire up her computer, open her browser, do a Google search for the appropriate charity, click the “Donate Now” button on the charity’s website, wait until she’s transported to the appropriate giving page, fetch her credit card, fill in the required fields, and confirm her gift. E-philanthropy in the 23rd century will almost certainly be a more spontaneous affair.
Until then, those of you who’ve used online giving sites like TouchDC.org should consider yourselves trailblazers. A recent survey by the good people at Network for Good informs us that you’re also to be celebrated for your extraordinary generosity. According to this survey:
- Online donors give significantly more than offline donors.
- Online givers are young, with men and women giving in equal numbers.
- Donors are not new to giving, but they tend to be new to giving online.
- Disaster relief is the leading category of giving and ranks among top searches; other leading giving categories are international causes, animal-related causes, human services and education.
- Donors turn to the Internet at times of disaster and for year-end giving.
- People seem to be at their most generous on weekdays, not weekends.
- The number one reason donors say they give online is convenience: it is easier than writing a check.
A nonprofit organization’s Web presence becomes more and more critical as more donors go online to learn about the causes they care about. It’s also possible that this increasing traffic in cyberdonors will someday drive the development of new kinds of online networks for those committed to strenghtening civil society. I know this has long been the dream of my colleague at Gift Hub.