Fundraising grows fastest online

Gene Austin
Gene Austin

Online is the fastest-growing fundraising channel for nonprofits, a new study says.

In 2010, clients of Convio raised over $1.3 billion online, up 40 percent from 2009, says the annual Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study.

Based on an analysis of data from nearly 600 nonprofits with at least 24 months of data and that raised a total of over $1.15 billion in 2010, the study says 79 percent of those organizations raised more online in 2010 than in 2009, while 21 percent saw their online giving decline.

The median growth rate in online giving totaled 20 percent, up from 14 percent in 2009, with online giving growing fastest for small organizations.

Groups with fewer than 10,000 email addresses saw a 26 percent increase in online giving.

Among organizations that grew fundraising in 2010, 88 percent saw an increase in the number of gifts.

Among 430 organizations that were fundraising continuously in 2009 and 2010, the median donation size grew to $91.94 in 2010 from $83.44 in 2009.

Among organizations that saw online fundraising grow, 88 percent saw the number of gifts grow, with the size of the average gift growing more than $8 in 2010.

The increase in the number of gifts and average gift size indicates “more people are moving online to give even if inspired through other channels,” Convio says.

Constituent engagement “is profoundly multichannel,” Gene Austijn, CEO and president of Convio, says in a statement. “Leveraging only traditional channels or only online channels results in partial engagement. The modern nonprofit and the modern constituent realize the value of fully engaging through multiple channels – traditional and online – to get the most out of each relationship.”

The total number of advocates on file grew 20 percent, with 6.4 percent of advocates on file also making donations, up from 5.9 percent in 2009, the study says.

The median total email file grew 22 percent to 48,700 constituents, it says, indicating that if nonprofits want to maximize the value of each relationship, they should ensure their communications and their fundraising requests match their constituents’ channel preference.

While giving to relief efforts related to the Haiti earthquake accounted for roughly $250 million, or about 20 percent of the total raised online by Convio clients, the “efficiency and timeliness of online and other digital forms of engagement is creating more opportunity for other organizations to reach people and engage them in a deeper relationship,” Convio says.

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