Latest in series of studies over five years tracks changes in giving patterns
Donors 40-59 years old are now the most likely to give online, countering the conventional wisdom that younger donors are more likely to give online, according to the latest survey commissioned by Dunham+Company and conducted by Campbell Rinker.
The percentage of donors 40-59 years old giving online has increased from 47 percent in 2010 to 67 percent in 2015. That compares to 54 percent of donors under 40 saying in 2015 that they have given a gift through a charity’s website, a drop from 60 percent in 2014. In addition, 54 percent of donors 60 years old and older say they have given online, making this demographic just as likely to give online as those under 40.
“It’s easy for organizations to have in mind a 20- or 30-year-old when they think of their online donors, but in fact it is the aging donor that is now the most likely to give online,” says Rick Dunham, President+CEO of Dunham+Company. “And the fact that donors 60 and older are as likely now to give online as donors under 40 means charitable organizations must shift their thinking about who is giving through their website.”
The surveys also show that social media has become an increasingly important driver of online giving.
Twenty-six percent of donors now say they have given on a charity’s website as a result of being asked to do so by another individual through social media. This is up from 20 percent a year ago. The response to a solicitation via social media is higher with those under the age of 40 (34 percent) and single (34 percent), as well as those who occasionally attend religious services (40 percent) and make $25,000-$75,000 per year (30 percent).
“It’s important to not misinterpret the findings,” Dunham says. “Donors are not responding more to requests for support from organizations through social media. They are responding to friends or others they know who, through social media, ask them for support of a specific charity, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Social media for nonprofits is still primarily a means to build community and engagement rather than a fundraising tool.”
The percentage of donors who say they have given online as a result of an email from a charity has also risen dramatically since the series of studies began. In 2010, only 6 percent of donors said they gave as a result of an email, but the number climbed to 20 percent in 2015.
About 1 out of 10 donors (11 percent) in the latest study said they have given a gift through an organization’s website as a result of receiving an appeal letter through the mail from the charity. Consistent with previous studies, the older the donor, the more likely he or she is to give this way in response to direct mail. About 1 in 5 (19 percent) donors 66 or older say they have done so, while only 8 percent of donors under 40 say they have responded in this way.
“Although direct mail is still an important contributor to online giving, especially with older demographics, e-mail is growing as a motivator for giving through a charity’s website,” Dunham says. “The most important takeaways from our latest study are just how important a multi-channel communication strategy is to any charity and just how vital it is for charities to ensure they have optimized the online giving experience.”
For example, when donors receive a letter in the mail asking for support, the majority (51 percent) say they go online to make their contribution while only 36 percent send their donation through the mail. In addition, nearly 1 out of 5 (18 percent) will make that donation using a mobile device.
“The research makes clear that charitable organizations need to make sure their websites are optimized for donations, particularly for the increasing number of donors who are making donations through mobile devices,” Dunham says.
The latest Dunham+Company study was part of a Campbell Rinker Donor Confidence Survey conducted Sept. 9-11, 2015 among 400 U.S. adult donors who had given at least $20 in the previous year. The online responses were weighted by age to reflect the general U.S. population per the 2010 census. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.