Most donations small, offline

Despite recent high-profile coverage of multi-million-dollar gifts and the increasing pressure to go digital, few Americans break $100 per donation and even fewer give online, a recent study says.

American Express and Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy released a report on individuals’ online giving behavior, based on donors’ most recent philanthropic gifts.

Though nearly two-thirds of respondents had donated to charity in the past year, only one in 10 made a gift online.

Reasons cited included a lack of Internet access, security concerns and a lack of awareness of opportunities for online giving.

Of those who had made a contribution online, one in five reported a charity’s active promotion of online donation options as their primary motivation.

“This survey indicates there is an untapped pool of donors who are influenced by a charity’s online presence and charities could benefit by proactively reaching out to them,” Bradlee Benn, vice president of business development at American Express Merchant Services, says in a statement.

Individual donations tended to be smaller, the study says, with two thirds of donations coming in at less than $100, and a median gift of $50.

The average size of a gift given for religious uses, not including faith-based, non-religious activities, was $284, nearly $150 more than the average gift size for secular groups.

The median gift was also higher, at $75 for religious groups, compared to a $50 median gift directed towards secular uses, the study says.

However, in general the survey found that overall gift size varies little based on the category of charity, with the exception of arts and education institutions.

Only donations to the arts or education were more likely to be between $50 and $200 than below $50, the study says, and they also were more likely than those of other charity types to exceed $500.

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