New Study Shows Online Giving is Important to Donors 60+

December 6, 2011

In an online study of donors who had given by any method, conducted November 15-17, 2011, we discovered that online giving has become an important option for donors who are 60 years of age or older.

The study found that while 61 percent of all donors surveyed had given an online gift at some point, a surprising one out of two donors (51 percent) 60 years old and older said they had done so. This compares to three of four donors (75 percent) under 40 and two out of three donors (64 percent) ages 40-59 who reported previous online giving.

As importantly, the study found that once donors who are 60+ years old give, they tend to continue to give online, and much more so than younger donors. For example, of the donors surveyed who are under forty and give online, the mean number of gifts they have given online is 11. But for donors 40-59 years old, the mean number of gifts is 15 and 14 for 60+ year old donors.

It has been our experience that many organizations and fundraisers believe that the younger demographic is the group to target for online giving, and a larger percentage do give online. But this study shows that fundraisers need to shift their thinking as older donors are clearly an important demographic to online giving, especially since they give more gifts online once they begin to do so.

We believe this study blows some holes in the conventional thinking about older donors and online giving. The fact that one out of two donors in the survey who are 60 years or older has given online is surprising, as is the fact that these donors give more frequently online than their younger counterparts. These are two vital pieces of intelligence for fundraisers, especially as we move into the holiday giving period, as a national study we conducted in August showed that online donors were most likely to stay engaged in giving towards the end of the year.

The fact that the vital older donor demographic, once engaged in online giving, will continue to use this channel, and more frequently than those who are younger donors, means that it is important for charities to continue to develop online giving as an option for their older demographic. But organizations must employ best practices to take full advantage of this demographic as the study found that one in four online donors had started to give an online gift but then stopped.

Donors who have given online said the following would improve the online giving experience:

• Reassuring them about the security of the transaction (this was especially important to 57 percent of older donors)

• Making the online donation process simpler with fewer steps

• Clarifying what the donor is supporting throughout the process (which was most important to donors under the age of 40)

The current study also found that 85 percent of older donors who have not given online said they were not willing to consider giving an online donation.

This just reinforces the need to apply best practices around integrated, multi-channel communication strategies and give donors options on how they want to fulfill their gift. While charities should focus on online appeals for funds, they shouldn’t neglect direct mail and telephone.

The online study of 524 donors was conducted on behalf of Dunham+Company by Campbell Rinker Nov. 15-17 among random ResearchNow panel members who had given at least one gift of $25 in the past year by any method. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.