Online Giving Continues To Be Important

Online giving showed modest growth in 2018, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A rather complex picture emerged over the course of the year, according to Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2018.

For instance, total giving increased 1.5% over 2017 and online giving grew only 1.2%. But the proportion of online giving increased. Last year, 8.5% of all fundraising came from online giving—the highest percentage in 20 years.

In addition, nonprofits reported different results for online giving compared to overall giving. Large organizations (those receiving more than $10 million in donations annually), saw a 2.3% increase in total fundraising and a decrease (0.5%) in online fundraising. For small organizations (receiving less than $1 million) the results were reversed: their online fundraising grew by 0.7% and total fundraising dropped by 2.3%. Medium organizations (with revenues between $1 million and $10 million) fared the best, increasing both total and online fundraising in 2018 by 2% and 3.7%, respectively.

Email Fundraising

In 2018, nonprofits increased both their email list size (by 5%) and their email volume (by 8%), but fundraising revenue from email declined by 8%. Additionally, email fundraising only represented 13% of all online revenue in 2018, compared to 28% in 2017.

Online Fundraising

Overall online giving increased 1.2% in 2018, much slower growth than the 23% achieved in 2017. Monthly renewal giving was up 17% in 2018 and donor retention increased by 37%. One-time gifts declined by 2% and the number of online gifts grew by 5%.

Not all nonprofit sectors experienced growth in online giving. In fact, some sectors actually saw a decline in online donations in 2018. Arts and culture organizations experienced the most growth at 5.8%. Public and society benefit organizations came in second with a 4.4% increase. At the other end of the spectrum, international affairs organizations saw a drop of 8.3% in online giving and animal welfare organizations experienced a 3% decrease.

Social Media

Although email still remains the lead social media channel in terms of number of subscribers/followers, the other social media platforms continued to grow in 2018. On average, for every 1000 email subscribers, nonprofits had 806 Facebook followers, 286 Twitter followers and 101 Instagram followers.

The growth in social media followers slowed down a bit from 2017 for Instagram and Facebook, but Twitter followers grew at a faster rate. In 2018, Instagram lists grew by 34%, Twitter lists grew by 26% and Facebook lists grew by 6%.

The sectors that experienced the most growth in social media followers were rights organizations, which increased their Instagram followers by 71% and their Twitter followers by 44%. For Facebook, hunger/poverty organizations saw the greatest growth in followers at 12%.

What is Your Experience?

Last year was a complex environment for charitable giving in general and for online giving in particular. Did you notice any trends in your online donations? What factors seem to affect online giving the most? What strategies have you adopted to optimize your online fundraising? Please share your insights in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you’re learning.

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