Big Groups Snared Majority Of #GivingTuesday Online Donations

June 19, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

Smaller organizations took a larger share of online gifts during the most recent #GivingTuesday as healthcare and education nonprofits also got in on more of the fundraising action.

Charleston, S.C.-based technology and fundraising firm Blackbaud this week released “#GivingTuesday Trends: A Closer Look at the Online Fundraising Impact in the United States,” comparing the first three years of online giving for the annual day of philanthropy.

The report includes giving data from almost 4,400 organizations representing $55.6 million in online fundraising since 2012 that Blackbaud has processed on #GivingTuesday. This year, #GivingTuesday will fall on Dec. 1.

In 2012, the first year of #GivingTuesday, traditional online fundraising juggernauts in medical research, international affairs and human services got most of the money, according to Steve MacLaughlin, director, analytics, for Blackbaud. “That would make sense, they’ve always done well in online. If they jump in the ring, they would do well, because they do this stuff well,” he said. The shift to a lot of faith-based, higher education, and healthcare organizations — more traditional organizations that have not typically done well in online – are doing a whole lot better.

Medical research organizations saw the big decline in their portion of online giving, from 33 percent in 2012 to 13 percent last year. Human services organizations were down from 23 percent in 2012 to 13 percent. Higher education jumped from 9 percent to 17 percent, and K-12 education increased from 3 to 10 percent.

“Part of this – in any of these years – is how much of a focus was it for your organization,” he said. Faith-based organizations saw the biggest swings over the three years, taking in 21 percent of the online gifts last year, down from 40 percent the previous year, but still up from just 2 percent in the inaugural year. The proportion of faith-based giving likely was influenced by United Methodist Church, which raised $6.5 million of the $19.2 million Blackbaud processed that year

“You see organizations raise a lot one year and not a lot the next year. It just wasn’t the thing you were going to focus on in the following year,” MacLaughlin said.

The average online gift ranged from $64 for environment and animal organizations (the only sector less than $100) to $280 for faith-based. Also cracking the $200 level were K-12 education ($259) and international affairs ($207).

MacLaughlin theorized that environment and animal organizations were surprisingly low because they do a lot of monthly giving, which sometimes even is the only way to give to the organization. That leads to a lower average gift but a better upside in the long term, he said.

Large organizations still accounted for almost three-quarters of online donations but medium organizations took in 21 percent compared with 13 percent last year. Small organizations were at 5 percent, up from 3 percent the previous year.

Large organizations had the largest average online gift ($168) compared with medium ($149) and small ($134). All three have averaged more than $100 in each of three #GivingTuesday years.

Small organizations were classified as those with annual fundraising of less than $1 million, while medium organizations between $1 million and $10 million, and large organizations raise more than $10 million annually.

If this was the whole year and larger nonprofits had a big drop in growth, it would pull down the entire sector in theory, which did not happen. The portion of organizations by size that participated wasn’t a drastic change from 2013 to 2014, according to MacLaughlin. There was a 23-percent increase in the number of small organizations from 2013 to 2014, compared wit ha 17 percent increase in large organizations and 14 percent jump in medium organizations.

“It’s wide open, if you’re an organization that chooses to focus on it, you can do well. I don’t think anyone’s cornered the market on GivingTuesday,” MacLaughlin said. “Keeping in mind #GivingTuesday is a real thing that the media now knows about and it’s on their radar. The amount of attention it continues to get every single year goes up. And so with all that awareness being created, you might not make it the focal point of your end-of-year campaign but to ignore it is pretty silly. Just all the media attention around it, there a lot of benefits you can get around it. The awareness level is elevated so far.”