Solid Evidence for Why You Should Add an Online Giving Option

If you don't already have an online giving option, you should seriously consider adding one.
If you don't already have an online giving option, you should seriously consider adding one. (Pixabay)

Donors 75 and older engage in online giving, with nearly one out of three (30 percent) saying they have done so, according to the latest survey commissioned by Dunham+Company and conducted by Campbell Rinker. 

Over the past seven years, Dunham+Company has surveyed donors to understand their interest and involvement in giving online, and this is the first time they have isolated the "silent" generation to see how it engages with online giving.

For example, silent generation donors who give online say they gave 25 percent more frequently online during the most recent year than younger generations (a mean of 5.0 gifts vs. 4.1).

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"We often think of the younger donor as the one giving online," says Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company, which consults with nonprofits on their fundraising and marketing needs. "But the fact, is the older donor demographic is beginning to adopt this giving behavior."

Four other findings from the survey emerged as significant.

First, 26 percent of donors now say they have given on a charity's website as a result of seeing something on the site that prompted them to give. This is up from 11 percent in 2015, which means a charity's website is more important than ever in motivating a donor's gift.

When looking at the various generations, a charity's website and social media presence are especially influential for millennials. Thirty-seven percent are motivated to give when someone asks them via social media, and 36 percent said that the website motivated their gift on a website. 

These two motivators are also important to motivating Gen Xers, as 29 percent said a website gift was motivated by social media, and 27 percent said such a gift was motivated by something on the charity's website.

Second, e-appeals have jumped significantly as a motivator to give online. In 2010, only 6 percent of donors said that an e-appeal motivated a gift. In 2015, that jumped to 20 percent and in this latest study 28 percent said the same, which is a 40 percent jump.

E-appeals are especially compelling to Gen Xers, boomers and silents, as nearly one-third of them report that this channel prompted their online giving (31 percent, 29 percent and 28 percent, respectively). In contrast, just 23 percent of millennials agreed that an e-appeal motivated their website giving.

Third, one out of four donors (25 percent) say that they have used their smartphone to give through a charity's website. This is up from 11 percent in 2013 and 18 percent in 2015, a 38 percent increase since the last survey. Of even greater note, 37 percent of millennial donors say they have used their mobile device to give a gift online and even 1 out of 10 (10 percent) of silents say they have done so.

"With the increase in giving through a mobile device, it is no longer enough for charities to have their website and giving form mobile-optimized," Dunham says. "Instead, it is imperative for them to design first for mobile to ensure the website and giving form render properly on such a device."

Finally, direct mail has reasserted itself as an important motivator for online giving. In the 2015 survey, 11 percent of donors indicated that direct mail motivated an online gift. In the most recent survey, the percentage of donors who say the same has jumped to 15 percent (an increase of 36 percent). As might be expected, the influence of direct mail is strongest among older generations with 24 percent of boomers and 28 percent of silents saying so.

"While e-mail continues to be a growing motivator for giving through a charity's website," Dunham says, "direct mail can't be ignored, nor can the charity website or social media. That's why a multi-channel communication strategy must be at the core of any charity's fundraising strategy and why they must ensure they have optimized the online giving experience on their website."

The latest Dunham+Company study was conducted in November 2016 by Campbell Rinker as a 15-minute online survey of 1,391 U.S. donors, who were screened to ensure they had given at least $20 to a charity in the past year. The fielding method has remained consistent from year to year to ensure comparability of results.

The researchers used a stratified random sampling methodology to proportionally recruit donors from four different generational groups—millennials (18-34), Gen Xers (35-54), boomers (55-74) and silents (75+). Millennial donors were over-sampled to allow for more robust cross-cohort comparisons. At the 95 percent confidence level, the study delivers a margin of error of ±2.6 percent. The results among millennials provide a ±3.2 percent margin of error overall.

For more information on the studies, visit

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