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Making the ask online – Fundraisers plug into Web

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With e-commerce promoting itself as an easier way to buy, charities and nonprofit groups are heading online to make charitable giving easier.

Call it e-philanthropy.

Few report they have raised much money over the Internet so far. But with more and more high-tech millionaires looking for ways to make their donations count, nonprofits see the Internet as a way to reach potential donors.

“This brings us into contact with a whole new set of shoppers and donors,” Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries International, told The New York Times.

According to a study by Craver Mathews Smith, a consulting firm for

charities, 16 million online users would be willing to donate money to nonprofits over the Internet. The study also found that the average age of a donor online is 42, while the average age of donors who respond to direct-mail solicitation is 66.

Still, Mark Rovner, senior vice president at the firm, says few charities have even raised enough money over the Internet to cover the costs of their Web site.

But they’re exploring options, he says. The American Red Cross, for example, has a Web site for direct online donations. Others are teaming up with well-known players. Yahoo, for one, has donated advertising spots to nonprofits.

Others are developing symbiotic relationships with online shopping sites. For example, Goodwill Industries has joined other nonprofits with GreaterGood.com, where 5 percent to 15 percent of what consumers buy online will go to the nonprofit of their choice.

Bill Massey, president of the National Charities Information Bureau in Washington, said so-called e-tailers are building consumer loyalty by associating themselves with nonprofits.

But Massey’s organization also warns consumers about the dangers of donating money online.

His group, which has been reviewing soliciting groups since 1918, recommends that would-be donors, online or off, ask charities for written information about the name of the organization, its purpose, how much of each dollar is used for charity and how the donation will be spent.

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