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US study calls for charities to offer better online giving opportunities

Howard Lake | 12 November 2007 | News

The first American Express Charitable Gift Survey suggests that charities can and should be doing more online to optimise online giving.
Conducted in partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the survey was the US’ “first nationally representative study to address two frequently-asked questions in the charity world: “How do people give online?” and “How much do they give per donation?”” It looked at how people give online versus offline and the motivations behind each approach to giving.
The survey reveals that, “although nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans in this study gave to a charity in the past year, only one in every ten donors takes advantage of the convenience of giving online”. Yet this is several years after the online giving explosion following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the South Asian Tsunami of 2004.
Why the slow take-up of online giving. The survey concludes that “a charity’s online presence (or lack there-of) influenced whether donors give online”.
Indeed, after ‘not having a computer’, the most popular reason – 28% of respondents – donors gave for not giving online was that “they could not find an online giving site, they did not know they could make a gift online, or they did not think of giving online”.
Confirming that finding was the result that, of those who gave online, “one in five (20 percent) said the primary motivation for giving online related to whether the charity actively promoted online giving choices – either they received an appeal from the charity with a link or easily found an online giving option”.
So, online giving works only when the charity or fundraiser asks online and asks effectively. In 2007 that should not come as too much of a surprise to fundraisers.
Bradlee Benn, Vice President, Business Development, American Express Merchant Services, considered the opportunity that this failure to exploit online giving still offers. He said: “The American Express Charitable Gift Survey serves as a call-to-action for charities to boost their online initiatives.
“This survey indicates there is an untapped pool of donors who are influenced by a charity’s online presence and charities could benefit by proactively reaching out to them.”
The survey resulted in a total sample (including oversample) of 1,428 useable responses in 996 donor households. It asked a random sample of Americans in the last two weeks of September 2007 about their most recent charitable gift.
You can download the survey results from American Express.