Need New Donors? Meet Them Where They Are—Online

Posted on November 1, 2019 by Amy Gergely in Fundraising and Grants.

We’ve all seen the numbers by now. The increase in overall charitable giving is on the decline—from about 8 percent in 2017 to 1.6 percent in 2018. So is the number of new donors. And donor retention. 

These metrics, tracked annually by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, point to a worrying and unsustainable trend for nonprofits. Fewer new donors and the loss of existing donors means increasing reliance on a small pool of large donors to sustain critical programs, drive innovation, and transform communities.

Is it all bad news though? Actually, no. There’s an ocean of new donors out there if you just know how to reach them—online.

Online Giving Trends and Statistics

Online donations are increasing—up by 12 percent in 2017—as is revenue from donors giving $250 or less. Yet many nonprofits are leaving money on the table by not effectively using technology to reach smaller donors where there are, and in the ways they want to be reached. 

The fact is, the giving landscape is changing rapidly, and not all nonprofits are on board. Today, over half of small to mid-sized donors across all age groups prefer to give online. But while the vast majority of North American nonprofits have a website and accept online donations, too often their use of online fundraising technology stops there.

According to the Global NGO Technology Report 2019, only 39 percent of U.S. and Canadian nonprofits use a peer-to-peer fundraising tool. Fewer than a quarter have adopted crowdfunding. And only 6 percent use online chat, the lowest rate worldwide. Despite their relatively high level of understanding of emerging technologies, fewer than half of these nonprofits plan to spend more on fundraising technology this year.

With smaller online donations on the rise and larger offline gifts on the decline, why spend your time chasing white whales when you could be casting your net to the millions of smaller fish who are already online and waiting to give?

Here are a few tips to help you reach those digital donors and make it as easy as possible for them to give:

Six Ways to Engage Online Donors

1. Offer donors multiple ways to engage online

Don’t just offer a donate button. Today there are a number of options for nonprofits of all sizes to create, customize, and promote online fundraising campaigns and events, and securely process online donations, including recurring and tribute gifts. Crowdfunding platforms that integrate storytelling, peer-to-peer fundraising, volunteer management, email outreach, and gamification elements, like matches and challenges, are available at every budget level. Be sure to look for a platform that’s easy to use and offers the support you need, especially if you have limited staff resources. 

Learn more about how GiveGab’s Boost Fundraising Suite for Nonprofits, Community Giving platform, and Enterprise embeddable forms can elevate your year-round fundraising.

2. Host or participate in a Giving Day

Even as growth in overall giving declined in 2018, Giving Days grew—a lot. In fact, Giving Days on GiveGab grew by more than 30 percent on average last year. These platforms are the Swiss Army Knives of online fundraising, combining the power of nonprofits, foundations, businesses, media, and individual donors with the latest online fundraising features to increase philanthropic engagement community-wide. And, they’re extremely effective in attracting new donors. On average, 28 percent of Giving Day donors gave to a participating nonprofit for the first time.

Giving Days are scalable, too. Cause-based organizations, educational institutions, large nonprofit networks with chapters nationwide, community foundations, United Ways, Chambers of Commerce and media organizations can all host wildly successful Giving Days. Plus, the benefits of hosting a Giving Day go way beyond dollars and donors. 

Learn more about GiveGab’s industry-leading Giving Day platform.

3. Leverage the power of Peer-to-Peer

Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising is among the most powerful ways to multiply your donor base. In a world where word of mouth and online user reviews are quickly displacing advertising as top influencers, P2P fundraisers are the philanthropic equivalent of brand ambassadors. 

Nonprofits using P2P fundraisers during Giving Days on average cultivate four new donors for each P2P fundraiser and raise 300 percent more than those that do not. P2P fundraising is integrated into all of GiveGab’s online fundraising solutions.

4. Ensure everyone can participate

Half of all online donations are made from mobile devices. If the online donation platform you use is not mobile-responsive, you may be missing out on these digital donors and throwing away your social media budget. According to the Global NGO Technology Report 2019, 97 percent of North American nonprofits regularly use social media to engage their donors, but if these donors can’t translate your ask into an online gift, there’s a good chance you’ll lose them.

Accessibility also means using a donation platform that can be easily used by people with disabilities. While 97 percent of North American nonprofits have a website, only 21 percent of those are accessible, the report found. GiveGab provides mobile-responsive and accessible online donation solutions. Our core platform and Giving Day sites are WCAG 2.0 Level A and partially Level AA compliant, and we are consistently evaluating best practices to further improve accessibility.

5. Prioritize donor security

Donors want to give online, but they want to do so securely. According to the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, 93 percent of donors “want organizations to make a concerted effort to protect their contact and financial information from data breaches” and 83 percent of donors “do not want organizations to share their contact information with other organizations.” 

Be sure the platform you’re considering is PCI compliant and is working with a PCI compliant payment processor, meaning it processes, transmits, and stores donor credit card data in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). 

In addition, you’ll want to make sure you have access to all of your donor data and understand when, if ever, that data is shared with anyone else. When you fundraise on GiveGab, we’ve got you covered. You always have access to your donor data. And we never share it with anyone else for marketing, advertising, or outreach purposes—ever. You can read our Privacy Policy to learn more.

6. Use a platform with stellar support 

Even when you do everything right, sometimes you need a little help. Be sure to look for an online donation platform that’s backed by the support of a team that’s as obsessed about your success as you are. 
GiveGab provides full support for nonprofits and their donors through our online chat. You always talk with real people who work in-house. And we measure our response time in minutes, not hours or days. Meet our team and read our success stories.


Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice.

Amy Gergely is Director of Civic Engagement for GiveGab, a U.S.-based fundraising technology provider serving nonprofits, nonprofit networks, foundations, and educational institutions, where she advises partners on fundraising strategy and technology. She has led technology-centered strategic communications and outreach projects for the United Nations, Cornell University, and the U.S. Government, and is an experienced trainer and coach who has worked with leaders across sectors. Amy holds advanced degrees in business administration and public policy with a focus on technology for public good. She lives in New York with her young son and their dog, Loki.


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