Online Donations Growing Despite Recession

Online giving has grown steadily since 2006 and is on track to continue growing this year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

According to the Blackbaud Index of Online Giving, online giving has become a $22 billion industry nationally, up from just $7 billion in 2006. "Online giving continues to grow at a double-digit rate, in spite of the recession," Steve MacLaughlin, coordinator of the 2011 Blackbaud index, told the Star Tribune. The online channel experienced a surge of growth after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with donations by year-end up 43 percent over 2009 levels. It grew another 13 percent in 2011 and is on track for growth this year, added MacLaughlin. While the channel accounts for less than 10 percent of all charitable giving in the United States, its explosive growth suggests its popularity among donors — especially a new generation of younger and wealthier donors — said MacLaughlin.

In Minnesota, the embrace of online giving by charities and nonprofits has been both rewarding and challenging. On the one hand, the online channel frees up staff to cultivate more relationships with major donors, provides a relatively inexpensive and hassle-free fundraising tool, and enables donors to contribute to the organization when and where they feel like it; on the other hand, charities must pay a small fee to the credit card company processing each donation, and they need to commit resources to their online giving portals to keep them fresh and user-friendly.

"Online giving clearly isn't just a flashy trend; it's here to stay,'' said Dana Nelson, executive director of GiveMN, an online giving portal launched in 2009 that hosts hundreds of charities. "Whereas in the past, nonprofits were more testing it — dipping into the waters — today it's integrated into nonprofits' development plans."

Jean Hopfensperger. "Giving Back, One Click at a Time." Minneapolis Star Tribune 11/06/2012.