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Online political gifts soar – Major parties enjoy boost

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The Web is getting heavier use by contributors to political causes, particularly as this year’s election campaigns kick into high gear, the Associated Press reported Aug. 18.

Online political contributions to Democratic and Republican clients of a leading political fundraising firm grew 139 percent during the week of the GOP convention in Philadelphia, AP said.

Both parties enjoyed similar increases this week during the Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles, eContributor.com told AP.

The young firm, which said the increases were better than expected, said its clients raised roughly $250,000 through Web sites between July 24 and the start of the Democratic convention on Aug. 14, an increase of 242 percent from late July.

The average Internet donation was $123, the company said.

The Republican National Committee, one of the firm’s biggest clients, said Web donations grew even more than they did during the week of the GOP convention. Neither the committee nor the company would disclose dollar figures.

The Libertarian Party said its fundraising grew 12-fold from an average of $5,000 a month to $60,000 in the weeks after its convention in July.

Trey Richardson, chief executive of eContributor, told AP that the Internet encourages impulse donations from people who will give their credit card before checking their checkbook.

In 1996, only a handful of donations were made using the Web. In 1998, the total grew to about 2 percent of all political donations, said Richardson, who projects that 5 percent to 10 percent of all donations will be made using the Web.

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