The State of Online Fundraising

Blackbaud reports that in 2016 charitable giving grew 1% during 2015. Online giving—one of the bright spots—grew nearly 8%. Yet online fundraising represents only 7% of overall fundraising.

donate buttonThat ratio shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as older donors and their foundations provide the majority of major donations. Not many do that online.

Let’s examine each of the aspects of online fundraising and from there you can come to grips with the overall state of online fundraising. You can also compare your organization to some of the categories below.

Organization Sector

Online giving dropped nearly 4% for medical research, but grew over 10% in each of these sectors: arts/culture, environment/animal welfare, higher education, human services, public and society benefit, as well as K–12 education.

Organization Size

While total online giving in 2016 increased by 7.9%, it grew 6/3%for large organizations (over $10 million in annual fundraising), 11.4% for medium ($1–10 million), and 8.1% for small (less than $1 million). 

Size of Online Donations

Blackbaud also reports that in 2016 10% of online donations were $1,000 or more. Not only that but 41% of nonprofits received at least one online donation of $1,000 or more. The largest online donation reported was $100,000 with 89% of online donations falling into the range of $1,000 to $4,999. The average online donation was $128.

Online Year-End Giving

Yearend giving is always productive, with over 20% of total giving happening in December. #GivingTuesday donations grew by 20% during 2015. Large organizations captured 66% of #GivingTuesday donations and the big sectors were human services (23%) and medical research (33%).

Monthly Online Giving

calendarMonthly online giving grew by 24% in 2015, and accounts for 17% of all online revenue, as reported in the M+R 2016 Benchmarks Study

Email Triggers Online Donations

That same report found that more than a third of online revenue could be tracked to an email request. They also note that the average nonprofit sent 49 email messages to their average subscriber. That’s a good comparison point for your email campaigns.

Digital Advertising 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals, in their 2016 State of the Sector report, found that nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 raised online. Their digital advertising budgets chiefly went to lead generation (38%), new donor acquisition (31%), and paid search advertising (23%). The big sectors were wildlife/animal welfare, with $0.14 spent per $1 raised, and environmental, with $0.09 per $1 raised.

Social Media

M+R reports that for every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans and 132 twitter followers. These channels are growing in importance in getting your message out and bringing donors to your donation page.

Online Giving Channels

Network for Good in their Digital Giving Index shows that 56% of online giving happens on a branded giving page, with just 3% on a generic page and 7% on a portal. It’s clear from this that you need to ensure your giving page is branded and that it tells your message to encourage action.

Mobile Donations

cell phoneIn 2016, 17% of online donations were made using a mobile device. This is up from 14% in 2015 and 9% in 2014. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile donations, you need make this accessible and fast.

Donor Age and Giving 

While we don’t have breakdowns by age for online giving, Blackbaud reports for all charitable giving that the average donor age is 62 and that the Silent Generation (born 1928–1945) combined with the Baby Boomers (1946–1964) accounted for 72% of donations yet only make up 41% of the population. Gen X (1965–1980) at nearly 27% of the population accounts for 15% of donations while Gen Y (1981–) at 30% of the population provides 5%. One factor is having sufficient income to donate. Another is engagement with nonprofit causes.

State-by-State Regulations

Guidestar reports that 41 states have a registration requirement for online fundraising solicitations. If your organization has a “Donate Now” button on its webpage, most of those requirements apply.  

Comprehensive Fundraising

We always encourage a comprehensive approach to fundraising. That means using every means available to raise funds. Not only that, but you need to make sure that your campaign leverages the best aspects of each type of donation.

As just one example of the benefits, M+R reports that retention of multi-channel first time donors comes in at 58% while offline-only donors is just 29% and online-only donors 21%. So ramp up all your donation channels.

Raise More Funds

We can help you take the next steps with your online donations. That can be navigating the state-by-state regulations and registration we well as online donation systems. We've done this for many nonprofits over the years. You can use our experience and expertise to significantly ramp up your own efforts in this critical aspect of fundraising that continues to grow.

You can contact us at (855) 329-4327 or


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John Connors

John Connors

John is a passionate patriot and business owner. He launched Campaign Now in 2008 to help free-market oriented, American organizations increase their reach and achieve important results. When he’s not strategizing growth plans with clients, you can find him sharpening his history chops, playing tennis in the Texas heat, or spending time with family.


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