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Trends in Non Profit Online Fundraising

Fundraising is alive and well within the Non Profit sector. This blog is based on research conducted by some well respected organizations and individuals, including Blackbaud’s Steve MacLaughlin, who presented these trends at the 2013 NTEN Annual Conference. From an overall perspective, the vast majority of fundraising done by NFPs is still done the old fashioned way with good ol’ campaigns and events. 

 
Traditional offline fundraising accounted for about 93% of all NFP fundraising in 2012 leaving approximately 7% done via online methods. However, online fundraising is growing--in 2012, it experienced double digit growth of 10.7% while giving as a whole grew by 2%. It seems clear that Non Profits will continue to pursue online methods of raising money.
 
Now, on to the trends!
 

TREND 1 - Online Giving is Growing

In 2012, overall online giving grew by 10.7% over 2011. These are healthy growth numbers so lets dive in a little deeper for more insight.
  • Medium NFPs grew the most at 14% online fundraising growth
  • Small NFPs followed with 12% online growth
  • Large NFPs lagged at 7% growth
Why is this happening? One possible reason is that Large NFPs rely on large, existing lists with donors used to giving in traditional ways. Newer, smaller NFPs may be more creative in attracting new donors and growing their donor lists which contributes to the growth numbers. 
 
Also amongst NFPs, Educational institutions see their online fundraising growing by almost 18% while International Affairs NFPs are barely raising more money online than they did last year. Go State!
 
The one caveat to mention regarding online fundraising is that retention among donors who only donate online lags behind the retention of traditional donors. There is less loyalty among online donors. This may be because in the online world, a new cause or organization is only a click away. What makes online giving easy for a first-timer, also makes it easy for that first-timer to switch allegiance. 
 
The takeaway is that online fundraising is growing and organizations should work towards including it in their fundraising mix (you knew that).
 

TREND 2 - Online Giving Is Predictable

It’s no surprise that giving, both online and traditional goes way up in December. Always has, and most likely always will. In fact, total dollars raised by NFPs in December is 22% of annual donations. And what’s the worst month in donor performance? Yep, January performs poorly coming in at just 5% of total. However, be careful in how you market to your base. The clutter in December is huge too. Donors are bombarded with marketing messages and cutting through with your message is challenging. 
 
One other month emerges as a top fundraising month. June shows a big bump as schools let out and parents make graduation gifts. But there’s another factor at work making June a large donor month. Many corporations have their fiscal year ends so they make giving decisions in June.
 

TREND 3 - Online Giving is Taking The Next Step

As stated at the top of this post, most giving occurs the old fashioned way. But NFPs are increasingly reaching newer and younger donors via online methods. As online giving growth remains in double digits, more and more organizations will explore online campaigns and better, more robust donor management systems. 
 

TREND 4 - Big Buttons Work Best

Is vertical better than horizontal? Is horizontal better than vertical? For every study looking at online button pushing behavior that says vertical buttons work better than horizontalbuttons, there is a competing study that says the opposite. However, the research does show that ecommerce web design incorporating buttons, BIG buttons performs better than radial buttons or check marks or similar. Human beings love to push buttons--this behavior is learned in early childhood and never forgotten.
 
Trend 4: Big Buttons Work Best

 

TREND 5 - Everything Is Now Mobile

Most of us have been waiting years for that day in 2014 when the analysts predict that mobile will overtake desktop as the platform delivering the most web visitors. Guess what? That day is now 1 year away. And mobile overtaking desktop is true for Non Profits and their online donors too. More and more web pages are viewed and more and more purchasing choices are being made with a mobile device in hand than sitting at a desk in front of a computer monitor. 
 

Summary

Extending NFP campaigns and web reach to mobile devices is a given and responsive web design is now front and center in almost all new web projects.  
 
Understanding these trends can help you plan and design the next online donor campaign. Knowing that online giving is predictable, now is the time to put in place processes to manage your donors, so you know who they are, get their attention and communicate to them in meaningful and lasting ways.