Branding boosts online giving to charity

PJ staff report

Online donors who give through a charity’s website tend to give more initially, and over time than do donors making contributions through other online venues, a new study says.

The strong branding on charity websites, as well as the opportunity to make an emotional connection, appear to make a difference to donors, says the report, which evaluates online donations facilitated by Network for Good’s platform.

Charity websites tend to draw the largest initial donations, about $180 in 2007, and the largest average cumulative giving over time, totaling about $257 by 2009.

Giving portals, which help donors find causes to give to, are convenient for donors, but lack much of the branding and emotional appeal of charity websites, eliciting an initial gift of $120 and average cumulative giving over the same period of $168.

Social-networking sites, which have a looser connection to charities, drew an average gift amount of $113 in 2007, with cumulative giving growing to only $123 by 2009, says the report by Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing.

Charities should not abandon having a portal or social-networking presence, the study says, but should brand these when possible and consider them an “entryway” for potential donors new to a cause or organization.

The study also says a significant portion of online giving to Network for Good clients occurs during the holiday season, with a third of all online donations made in December and 22 percent occurring the last two days of the year.

From 2003 to 2009, $127.1 million was donated through Network for Good during December, compared to $254.4 million the rest of the year.

And these “December donors” are worth more than other donors, with an average cumulative donation amount from 2007 to 2009 that is 52 percent higher than that of other donors.

Disasters also spur a spike in contributions from online donors, and even bring new donors on board, the study says.

Online giving can jump by a factor of 10 in the days following a major natural disaster, and giving portals are the primary vehicle for online donations in the wake of a disaster.

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