Online Giving Study: Donations Driven by Donor Experience, Year-End Gifts and Large-Scale Disasters

A landmark study of $381 million in online giving across charitable websites, giving portals and social networks reveals important insights about digital philanthropy: People seem to give more when the online experience is intimate and emotionally coherent, and they also give online for reasons of convenience, especially at the end of the year and during large-scale disasters.

The Online Giving Study, from Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing and sponsored by AOL, found generous procrastinators donate in droves on December 30 and 31. More than 20% of all giving for the entire year occurs in the last 48 hours of the calendar year.

“As we enter this giving season, this research shows how much relationships matter between charities and their supporters – online as much as offline. Even small improvements in the online experience can make a big difference in the amount a charity can raise,” said Bill Strathmann , CEO of Network for Good .

The study covered $381 million in online giving through Network for Good’s platform, including 3.6 million gifts to 66,470 different nonprofits from 2003-2009.

“This is groundbreaking research,” said Steven Busheé, Principal of TrueSense Marketing. “What Network for Good and TrueSense uncovered about online donors will benefit fundraisers, nonprofit leaders and their funders. This is the data the sector has been waiting for.”

Key online giving study findings include:

  • Just as the strength of the donor-charity relationship heavily influences offline giving, the online giving experience has a significant impact on donor loyalty, retention and gift levels. Small improvements to the online experience can make a big difference in donations.
  • Giving on social networks is significant, but donor loyalty is highest on charity websites that build strong connections with donors. Personality matters on these websites: The loyalty factor for donors acquired through generic giving pages is 66.7% lower than for donors who give via charity-branded giving pages.
  • Analysis of cumulative online giving (i.e., giving added up over time) via different pages powered by Network for Good shows that donors who gave via charity websites started at the highest level and gave the most over time. Those who used giving portals started lower and gave less over time. Those who used social giving opportunities gave the least initially and added little afterward.
  • Recurring giving is a major driver of giving over time and should be strongly encouraged in the giving experience.
  • Online giving spikes during the month of December and large-scale disasters. During disasters, donors are more likely to consider new giving options, while in December, they’re more likely to give based on relationships with the charities.
  • A third of all online giving occurs in December, and 22% of annual giving happens in the last two days of the year. Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in each time zone.
  • Online giving happens largely between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. People give during work hours. There’s even a drop in giving during the noon hour.

The full study and accompanying data, including stand-alone charts, are available at

About Network for Good (
Network for Good is a nonprofit that makes it easy for donors to support any charity, anywhere online and that helps nonprofits raise funds for their missions through simple, affordable and effective online fundraising services. To foster continued growth in online giving, Network for Good also provides free training to nonprofits on online outreach through the site Through partnership with corporations, Network for Good enables cause marketing initiatives and charitable giving solutions. Network for Good has processed over $450 million in donations for more than 70,000 nonprofits since its 2001founding by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo.
About TrueSense Marketing (
TrueSense Marketing is a leader in US fundraising, producing more than 40 million donor impressions a year. With offices in Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Pasadena, the 70 fundraising professionals of TrueSense are watching the changes in donor behavior and responding with fact-based approaches to direct mail, online fundraising, and other media.



Katya Andresen
Network for Good
[email protected]

George Crankovic
TrueSense Marketing
[email protected]

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