Online donors seen wanting ease, emotional link

Most wealthy U.S. donors give online but nonprofits often miss opportunities to connect with donors, a new study says.

Eight in 10 wealthy donors who give an average of almost $11,000 a year to charity make some of their donations online, says the report by Convio, Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research.

And more than half prefer giving online to more traditional fundraising methods, says “The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Your Middle and Major Donors,” which analyzed the online behaviors and preferences of 3,000 donors to 23 large nonprofits.

But an Internet communication gap exists, the study says, with many donors leaving websites feeling less than inspired.

Only four in 10 respondents say they feel connected to the cause of most charities through their websites, and almost half say most charity websites are poorly designed.

“Based on what these important donors told us, we believe a tremendous opportunity exists for nonprofit organizations to better leverage their online presence to improve the online experience of the wired wealthy,” Vinay Bhagat, Convio founder and chief strategy officer, says in a statement.

Many donors say they would welcome more extensive communication by email, and almost two in three say they always open, and at least glance at, emails from causes they support.

Nearly seven in 10 donors believe an email reminder to renew their annual gift is appropriate, and they say emails detailing how previous donations had been spent would make them more likely to give again.

Preferences of various types of donors could allow for customizable online experiences that would benefit all involved, the study says.

For three in 10 respondents, a smooth and simple experience is most important, while a similar number prefer emotional connection to  efficiency.

But more than four in 10 prefer a middle ground, emphasizing both emotion and efficiency, the report says.

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