News and analysis
December 02, 2012

Online Giving Grew Rapidly in 2012, According to New Chronicle Data

Although online giving remains a small share of the total dollars that charities raise every year, organizations using the Web to seek donations are seeing healthy growth for their efforts to attract new donors and persuade donors to give again.

During the second quarter of the calendar year, some 51,000 charities reported a 10.9-percent jump, to $204-million, in total online gifts, compared with April to June a year ago, according to data provided to The Chronicle by three big processors of online gifts.

From July to September, the same group of charities reported collecting 8.9 percent more, or $180.9-million, compared with the same months in 2011. Blackbaud, Network for Good, and PayPal provided data on giving to The Chronicle in the hope that doing so would allow nonprofits to better compare the status of their online fundraising with other charities.

The Chronicle will publish the aggregated online giving totals after each quarter.

Positive Picture

Data provided by the online processors show that more and more charities are raising money online. At the three organizations, the total number of groups raising money online grew by 20 percent this year, to 106,000 charities, up from 88,400 last year.

While the number of charities raising money grew in the last quarter, as did the number of donors, the average gift size was flat at about $77, adjusted for inflation.

Experts say they see that as a sign of progress because it suggests that more people are giving online, albeit in smaller amounts, than people did in past years.

“We see that as a positive thing,” says Katya Andresen, chief operating officer for Network for Good.

“It shows that online giving is going mainstream,” Ms. Andresen says. “It’s not just wealthy people who have computers giving online.”

Online giving, though, accounts for less than 10 percent of the dollars charities collect, experts say. But Steve Mac­Laughlin, director of Blackbaud’s IdeaLab, predicts that over the next five years, the total share of gifts raised online will grow to 15 percent of charities’ overall donations.

Weekday Giving

The data offer fundraisers some clues on how charities should time their appeals.

Two-thirds of online donations are made during business hours rather than in the evening, with more people giving early in the afternoon, Eastern time.

Slightly more donations come in on Mondays and Tuesdays than later in the week; online donors are least as generous on Saturdays.

Although gifts later in the week are fewer, they tend to be larger. Thursdays and Fridays bring an average of $100.18 and $94.65 per gift, respectively. On Mondays, the average gift size is $84.07.

For charity fundraisers seeking to reach donors, the lesson is clear, says Ms. Andresen: “I would recommend asking during the week, midday.”

Send an e-mail to Raymund Flandez and Emily Gipple.