Friday, December 30, 2011

Is the Data Telling the Real Truth About Online Giving?

There was a very informative post recently from Blackbaud about the current statistics around online giving. If you don't have time to read it here are a few key highlights:

1) Online fundraising generated $22 billion in 2010 (up 34% vs. '09) Online still only represents about 8% of total giving in the US
3) 32% of online donors will switch to offline giving

Clearly, online is the fastest growing giving channel and we've likely only seen the tip of the iceberg (I hope) but I want to caution fundraisers to be careful what you glean from two other data points.

1) Only 3% of offline donors will give online
2) Multichannel donors are more loyal than single channel donors

It's All About Causation vs. Correlation

First, let me be clear, I do not dispute that this is THE DATA. The data clearly shows the correlation (the fact that these two points are related) but doesn't explain the causation (what is REALLY the relation between the two).

Only 3% of offline donors will give online

1) Does this mean that 97% of offline donors don't use email or Internet?
2) Does this mean that we shouldn't bother soliciting offline donors via other channels?

I think that neither of the above are true. My guess, the large majority of organizations started their online giving long after they started their offline giving and that offline represented 92% (or more of the giving) so the Director of "Offline" giving probably got the final say in whether emails were sent to "their donors" when a offline channel effort was underway.

Kudos to Steve MacLaughin and the rest of the team at Blackbaud for doing the hard work on aggregating all of this data. All I ask is that we challenge ourselves (fundraisers and agencies alike) to look a layer deeper at what this all means.

This may be a job for Market Researchers to find out directly from the donors!

1 comment:

Steve MacLaughlin said...

Thanks for posting this. A few comments and points of clarification.

First, the stats about donors switching channels for renewal gifts comes from the "2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report" --

What the data shows is that when online donors renew that they switch to giving offline 32% of the time. And that offline donors that renew only switch channels 3% of the time.

The BIG takeaway is that donors switch channels. Despite the silos and other obstacles that are put in their way.

Also, it's a mistake to confuse channels of communication and methods of giving. Communicating using a mix of direct mail, phone, email, web, social, and mobile produces better results. Too many orgs get hung up on where the transaction is made --- not how they got there and what mix brought about the gift.

The more that nonprofits think, plan, and act in a multichannel way the better the results --- as the rest of the report shows.

Just my $0.02.