Online donors respond

In response to the humanitarian crises of 2004 and 2005, online givers were fast and generous, a new report says.

Network for Good, a nonprofit that processes online contributions to about 23,000 different charities, issued a report based on transactions it handled in response to the Asian tsunami in 2004 and last year’s Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan.

Almost 200,000 gifts through Network for Good accounted for a total of $24.5 million in response to those three crises alone, says the report.

The report, “Impulse on the Internet: How Crisis Compels Donors to Give Online,” analyzes the 82,000 donations totaling $11 million for tsunami relief, 107,000 donations totaling $13 million for Hurricane Katrina and 3,100 gifts totaling $500,000 for the earthquake in Pakistan.

Overall, online donors were more generous that offline donors, with online gifts averaging about $125 for the three disasters, compared to an average offline charitable gift of $27.

Online gifts tended to be impulse-driven, peaking and dropping within the two to six days following a disaster.

Much of that was driven by news coverage of disasters, the report says, with about half of Network for Good’s traffic coming from links with AOL and Yahoo!’s news sites.

Most donations were directed to well-known charities, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, but when presented with choices, many donors opted for smaller or less well-known groups.

Despite the rise in online giving, donors remain worried about fraud, the report says, noting that “privacy and security” was the most popular frequently-asked question on the Network for Good site.

While crisis giving was strong, it does not appear to have negatively affected regular giving, as overall non-crisis giving was higher in 2005 than in 2004.

To take advantage of donors’ willingness to give quickly and generously in response to crises, Network for Good recommends charities set up online-donation processes in advance of disasters.

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