Dunham+Company Research

New study shows older donors now just as likely to give to charities online as younger donors

Nearly 3 out of 5 donors age 66 and older make contributions via the web

June 21, 2014

Donors 66 and older are now just as likely to make their contributions to charity online as younger donors, according to a U.S. Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study.

The percentage of donors 66 and older giving online has increased from 29 percent in 2010, the first year Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker conducted this study, to 59 percent in 2014. Donors 65 and younger give online at a 60 percent rate – no statistical difference given the study’s margin of error.

Infographic showing online giving by generation

“The trend of older donors giving online has definitely accelerated in the last two years,” says Rick Dunham, President+CEO of Dunham+Company. “From our perspective, charities must seriously consider that an older donor is now just as likely to hop on to their website to give as a younger donor. This means charities must do all they can to optimize their website for ease of use as well as streamline the giving process to better serve these older donors, as donors over 60 are a prime demographic for giving.”

For the first time since the study began, 3 out of 5 donors (60 percent) of all generations have given a gift online.

There also was a significant jump in the percentage of donors who say they gave online in response to an email. In 2010 and 2012, only 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively, gave a gift to a charity’s website because of an email. In 2014, that percentage jumped to 20 percent, with the most likely to respond to such a communication being donors 66 or older (23 percent). In 2010, no older donors said they responded to an email by giving an online gift, and in 2012 their response barely registered at 7 percent.

“It is especially critical for fundraisers to note that the 66 and older crowd is the most likely demographic to give in response to an email,” Dunham continues. “That is a dramatic development in online fundraising and should shift how charities think about who receives their online communications.”

Social media continues to register a modest impact on online fundraising; 20 percent of donors in 2014 said they have responded with an online gift to a social-media request to give. That’s up from 16 percent in 2010 and 18 percent in 2012.

When asked their preferred way to make a contribution when they receive a letter in the mail, 53 percent of donors said they preferred to give online. This percentage has grown steadily from 38 percent in 2010 and 50 percent in 2012. Of interest, in 2010, the preferred method to give in response to a letter was through the mail with 52 percent saying they preferred this method of giving. The 2014 study shows this has reversed to only 36 percent preferring to respond by mail and 53 percent preferring to give online.

Infographic showing online giving in response to a direct mail appeal

Of the 66 and older generation in 2010, only 15 percent would give an online gift in response to a letter in the mail. That percentage jumped to 39 percent in 2014.

The Dunham+Company study was part of a Campbell Rinker Donor Confidence Survey conducted online June 25-July 9, 2014 among 507 Internet respondents who gave at least $20 in the previous 12 months. Respondents were weighted by age to reflect the general U.S. population per the 2010 census. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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