Giving…drifting from orthodox to online

All facts point towards the growth of online giving which continues to outpace the overall growth of charitable giving.

For those local charities which are contemplating, maybe what follows will build some confidence to embark on the journey of online fundraising. Or perhaps they can partner with an institution which does it for them.

Expounding the Potential…

Sri Lanka ranks as 8th in the World Giving Index of 2015, just below United Kingdom. This illustrates the reality of our caring and sharing society. This also illuminates the opportunities vacant for our local nonprofits. Over 20% of this generous community can be accessed online. This will further rapidly expand as internet access is becoming more and more accessible via public Wi-Fi hubs.

A more magnified view of this giving reveals that a majority of Sri Lankans donate towards religious causes which is venerable. But this is somewhat unfair as there are so many underprivileged and needy individuals and families who desperately need our help. This also maybe because our local nonprofits have not seriously begun online fundraising thus not being seen or heard enough. Wouldn’t it be satisfying if these donors were equally informed of socially charitable Sri Lankan causes? Further, if they conveniently had access to these causes to give online?

While you consider that thought, let’s concentrate on…

Why online giving matters for charitable organization?

We lead increasingly digital lives, from our work, to personal communication, to shopping, and even banking. There’s not much that we don’t do online. Our philanthropic tendencies are no different. The opportunity of anywhere & anytime giving increases, as people become more comfortable with online and mobile transactions.

The ‘digital giving index’ published by ‘Network for Good’ has monitored trends on their online giving platform since 2010. For the past several years, year over year, growth in online giving has outpaced growth in general giving. As online giving methods adapt to changing technology and habits, one can expect these trends to continue and speed up. As more donors move online, both in their giving and in their interactions with causes, having a strong digital strategy is no longer optional.

This scenario is equally true in our local context as Sri Lanka is not far behind the fast digital growth of the western world.

The Channel Matters

Discussion of online fundraising often focus on technology, but raising funds online is not solely about technology, any more than raising funds through postal mail is about paper. As its core, online fundraising is still about the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor. That said, it’s important to understand how an online giving channel can affect this relationship.

Giving is an emotional, personal experience. So the fundraising technology we use needs to match up with that expectation. Online donors expect a connection, not simply a transaction with the organization they support. The donor’s online experience is directly tied to their likelihood of giving, giving more, and more often. Even small nonprofits with limited resources can and should offer giving channels that reinforce a connection with donors online. The good news is that it’s no longer difficult to do so.

Emerging Trends in Online Giving

While donors reasons for giving to causes they care about hasn’t changed, the way they connect with causes and show their support is evolving thanks to the adoption of social media and infinitude of mobile devices. The following are two key trends that is shaping how donors engage with nonprofits.

  • Social Fundraising

The power of peer fundraising and socially driven campaigns has increased dramatically as the tools  and communication channels that make it easy for donors to advocate on organizations’ behalf have become mainstream. Social fundraising has seen explosive growth over the last few years, growing 70% in 2014. Better yet, the average donation amount for gifts through these campaigns has grown 52% just in the last year. Statistics also show that peer-to-peer campaigns are additive to other fundraising methods and that they allow nonprofits to grow both their revenue and their donor base.

  • Mobile

With the majority of all email opens happening on mobile devices, nonprofits that don’t have a strong mobile strategy will be left behind in online fundraising. There are many ways for causes to connect with donors via mobile, but the easiest, and most successful, is through the mobile web. Mobile friendly and responsive pages allow donors to quickly give on the go, especially during disasters, events, and year-end.

Primary Source of data for this article – Network for Good.

Data referenced in this article covers $233 million in online giving to 45,000 nonprofits through Network for Good’s platform in 2014.

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