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American Red Cross finds personal appeals from friends motivate social media users to give

A survey by the American Red Cross confirms that social media users are more likely to give to charity in response to a message from a friend or family member than from a charity. Seventy per cent of social media users surveyed said that they would take some kind of action in response to a friend posting a story on social media about making a charitable donation.
While just 3% of respondents said that social media was the most effective way for a charity itself to request a donation, 19% per cent said that if a friend posted about a recent donation they would be likely donate money themselves.
The social media users amongst those surveyed were mostly charitable, with 71% reporting that they had donated to a charity in the past 12 months. Of these, 60% had donated online.
Gail J. McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross, said:

“This survey shows how social networks and charitable giving are intersecting and building on one another,” said . “These social philanthropists are giving online to charities and sharing the news on social networks, which then often leads to more social activity and more giving by their friends. I believe this trend will only grow in the future.”

The telephone survey of 1,021 U.S. adults (508 men and 513 women aged 18 years and older) was conducted in October 2014 in ORC International’s CARAVAN® survey.

American Red Cross: Holiday Poll infographic 2014

American Red Cross: Holiday Poll infographic 2014


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Offline giving still popular

Respondents to the survey still value offline methods of giving: 42% of social media users said that they are more likely to give this year than last year via an offline method such as writing a cheque, a collecting tin in a shop, or to an individual collector in a public place. These were more popular than using social media or texting to donate.
Personal face to face approaches were also popular, with 37% saying they would be likely to make a charitable donation in response to an in person request.

To share or not to share

Although many online giving platforms and charity sites now give donors the option to share their donation via the social network of their choice, not all donors are interested in doing so.
Of social media users, 34% said that they definitely would not or were unlikely to share details of their donation, with 40% saying they would definitely share or were likely to share.

Public invitation to give

The model of friends publicly naming and inviting other friends to donate in response to their donation is as popular as the success of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge campaign might suggest. Only 27% of all social media users surveyed said that they would, with 38% saying no and 35% undecided.
The figures were very similar even amongst those who said that they had participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Mobile and desktops in the giving process

The survey found that, of the 59% who donate online rather than offline, 43% view the charity’s website on a mobile device during the giving or research phase.
However, desktops (54%) and laptops (35%) remained the most popular tools with which to make the online donation. Smartphones were used by 24% to make the donation.

Hype and trends matter little to donors

Although many of the respondents are active on social media (69% of respondents stated they were active on at least one social network and log into that network at least one time per day), they said that they were not affected by online trends in terms of giving: 72% said that a charity’s popularity in the media or trending status on Twitter made no difference in their decision to donate.
The issue of free gifts or incentives split respondents in two: 51% said that the offer of a memento, ornament or piece of clothing in exchange for a charitable donation would not increase their likelihood to give.

Giving Tuesday

Even though Giving Tuesday has only been running for two years, 41% of social media users surveyed said that they were aware of the day that promotes charitable giving and volunteering. In addition 47% of those aware of Giving Tuesday said they planned to participate this year.
The American Red Cross: Holiday Poll is available in PDF.