Online holiday giving could top $4 billion

Online giving in the U.S. is expected to exceed $4 billion this holiday season, an increase over last season’s $3.1 billion, a new study says.

Almost two-thirds of Americans plan to give to charity over the Internet this year, and 60 percent plan to give the same or more than last year, says a report from Convio that was prepared by Forrester Research.

And while almost a quarter of respondents plan to give less this holiday season, 20 percent have yet to determine donation amounts.

“It is clear that online giving has joined traditional channels as a mission-critical part of the giving mix and successful organizations are investing accordingly in their online relationships,” Gene Austin, CEO of Convio, says in a statement. “If it is difficult for donors or prospects to find information and give to your organization, online donors will find an alternative.”

Nonprofits’ websites are the leading factor in a potential donor’s decision to contribute, followed by word-of-mouth, the survey says, and a quarter of respondents say their friends’ and relatives’ recommendations matter.

While more than half say charities have made it easier to donate online, almost as many say charities should make it easier for potential donors to find information that can aid in making decisions about donations.

About 37 percent of respondents say they will support human-services and social-services groups this year, including food banks and shelters, while almost as many plan to give to faith-based groups or health-services nonprofits.

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