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Online fundraising maturing

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Fundraisers’ optimist may be cooling a bit, but their efforts in online appeals are beginning to pay off, a new report says.

Overall optimism about the current and future climate for raising money in the nonprofit sector dropped 1.6 percent over the past year, as measured by the Philanthropic Giving Index.

The index, developed by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, is based on the experiences and perceptions of professional fundraisers nationwide.

While that overall enthusiasm has waned slightly, the share of groups reporting success in online fundraising has more than doubled to 34.4 percent this year from 16 percent in 2000.

The size of online gifts remains small generally, with almost two in three reporting average gifts of $250 or less, and only one in 10 reporting average gifts of more than $500.

While online giving is growing, it still represents only a small fraction of overall contributions, the report says, with almost one in two respondents raising less than 1 percent of donations online, and almost one in four receiving no online gifts.

However, more than 13 percent receive half or more of their contributions online.

Despite growing success, online appeals are the least effective fundraising approach, respondents say, overshadowed by major gifts, planned giving, direct mail, foundation grants and other sources.

“This indicates that online giving offers donors additional, convenient ways to make their contributions,” says Timothy L. Seiler, director of public service at the Center’s Fund Raising School.  “But that it is not replacing other, more conventional fundraising and giving strategies.”

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