Giving online: Part 1

By Todd Cohen

Save the Children in Westport, Conn., raised roughly $50,000 a month online in the 23 months through November 2004.

In the month after tsunamis struck South Asia last December 26, web donations to the charity averaged $50,000 an hour, peaking on December 31 at $96,000 an hour.

The charity, which raised $33.3 million that month, just over one-third of it online, previously had relied heavily on direct-mail appeals and phone-bank solicitation, but now sees the web as key to its future, says Fiona Hodgson, vice president for leadership giving and public affairs.

“Going forward, we will change our marketing plans to focus more on the web,” she says. “The internet will be the main source for new donors and a great way to communicate with existing donors.”

Hodgson and other experts say online giving, which showed steady but modest gains after a big surge following 9/11, finally hit the “tipping point” after the tsunamis, and is here to stay.

“All of a sudden, it’s unquestioned that the web has fundamentally changed what’s available and what’s possible in terms of raising money around a disaster-relief effort,” says Sheeraz Haji, CEO of GetActive Software in Berkeley, Calif.

Other articles in series: 

 Part 2: Web contributions surge in wake of Asian Tsunami.
Part 3: Workplace contributions, technology donations flow. 

Part 4: Virtual relief speeds cash, materials to stricken areas.

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