Digital fundraising

6 myths about online fundraising busted

Online giving can be tough to get your head around. You'll never speak to - or even see - most of your donors. With a whirlwind of information about the latest trends out there, it can all add up to a recipe for myths and confusion. Here’s six of the biggest online giving myths busted, to help you get that next fundraising campaign right online…

By Reason Digital · August 29, 2012

Myth: only young people donate online.

Fact: older people are leading online giving

Research from JustGiving and ICM highlights that the older generation are actually leading the boom in online giving. For the first time in history there are more over-65s with access to the internet than without, and these ‘silver surfers’ are particularly interested in giving to religious charities and arts and cultural causes. ICM surveyed over 2,000 adults and found that over-60s were the most generous age group, donating 3 times as much online to religious organisations compared with 5 years ago. Over the same period, older people also made 5 times more donations via the internet to culture and arts groups. So the familiar church donation plate could soon be giving way to an online alternative.

Myth: only young men use social media

Fact: women use social media more.

The social network gender divide is an interesting one, women rule the roost pretty much across the board with the notable exception of LinkedIn – where men still dominate. Women make up 58% of all facebook users, 64% of twitter users and a whopping 90% of Pinterest’s user base. Take this powerful and proactive female audience into consideration when planning and communicating your fundraising asks via social media, or developing supporter relationships to spread your fundraising messages.

Myth: nobody donates big money online

Fact: people do make big online donations

Online giving is great for collecting small sums, but contrary to popular belief people do donate large sums online too. In fact, the average online donation is larger than the average offline one.

Blackbaud have been publishing their report on online fundraising trends for the last two years. 2011’s report discovered an increase in large online gifts to nonprofits. In 2011, 87% of organizations had at least one online gift of $1,000 or more. The median online gift of $1,000 or more was $1,200 and the largest amount given online in the analysis was $260,000. 43% of these donations were between $1,000 and $5,000. Such online generosity highlights the importance of charities having an engaging and user-friendly online donations process as part of their website.

woman holding credit card and laptop

Myth: online fundraising sites keep most of the money

Fact: fees are comparable to other donation methods

The vast majority of money raised online through fundraising websites goes to charity. But there are costs depending on which website you use for signing up, fees and commission. Whether you are raising money or receiving it, do your homework and decide which website is best for you. Then, decide if a monthly fee in exchange for lower donation commission is worth it for you.

Myth: a donation form is as good as any other

Fact: people are different, your donation form should be too

Different things push different peoples’ buttons and you should be A/B testing a range of different donation forms so you can gauge what is working for different people and spot trends. Charities should use a combination of generic donation forms alongside forms with more specific giving options, and give donors the option of suggested donation amounts and being able to enter their own amount – donation forms with a clear ask perform better than those with none.

group of women round a laptop

Myth: people are either online donors, or offline donors

Fact: generous people do both

Online giving is still growing and has given non-profits lots of opportunities to target new donors, but still offline donations are more popular. But increasingly, people are taking advantage of multichannel giving as it provides the busy average Joe or Josephine with the flexibility to donate in a number of ways. Donors acquired offline end up giving on average $63, those acquired online give more than double that figure, and donors who are acquired online but also give offline donate on average $197 to good causes. Don’t see your supporters as either online or offline – they have the potential to be both.