Web Gifts – Getting the Whole Pie

Sections of this topic

    If you think that people online give to your organization only through your web donation form, you’re missing significant slices of the online giving pie. See the chart below to see how big those missing slices can be.

    I recently studied 701 gifts that a nonprofit client received in 2010. All were made by visitors to their website. However, less than two-thirds of those gifts (64%) actually came in via the web form.

    24% of the gifts came in via the nonprofit’s PayPal account.
    There are 85 million PayPal accounts in the US and they exist for only one reason – so people can spend money, online. Don’t you want to make it convenient for those active web users? They’re already comfortable with PayPal, and they can make a gift to you easily and quickly, without having to enter a credit card number online.

    (I also think that people are more willing to spend money from their PayPal account than from their credit card or checking account.)

    10% came in via the mail…
    …on forms printed from the website. These are people who don’t trust the web at all, or who had trouble using your web form (no web donation process works 100% of the time).

    The smallest slice (two percent) came in via Amazon’s payment system.
    Amazon lets nonprofits establish a vendor account, and donors can use their Amazon one-click process to make a gift to the nonprofit. Again, it’s convenient for the donor.

    Figure 1: Percentage of online donations by channel

    There has been a shift with this nonprofit in recent years. The mail used to account for a higher percentage, and PayPal a lower percentage. Times change, and your donors’ online donation preferences will, too.

    Neither Amazon nor PayPal take a cut of the donation. That is much different than what your online credit card merchant takes, so the net to you is pretty much the same. (You need to negotiate rates based on your volume, average gift amount, and security measures).

    Online check payments – those made online directly from the donor’s checking account – will increase in popularity, particularly as people seek to avoid credit card interest rates, and as such payments are more often used for online bill paying in general.

    So, if you only have a web form, you might be missing more than one-third of the gifts people are willing to give you.

    Rick Christ has been helping nonprofit organizations use the Internet for fundraising, communications, and advocacy since 2009, and has been a frequent writer on the subject. He delights in your questions and arguments. Please contact him at: RChrist@Amergent.com or at his LinkedIn Page