American generosity is at an all-time high, and online giving is its fastest-growing trend. 

U.S. nonprofits, including faith-based organizations, finished 2021 ahead of 2020, which was better than 2019 in overall giving, according to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report. 

While overall giving was up 9% from 2021 over 2020, online giving made significant progress across all nonprofit sectors, especially faith-based organizations.

In years past, it was typical for overall giving and online donations to fall back to normal levels following major episodic events. That was not the case in 2021. Giving not only recovered but grew more than it has in a decade. Online giving also grew and remained near record highs across several metrics. 

According to the Blackbaud institute nonprofit report, 2021 was exceptional for nonprofit fundraising.

  • Online giving has grown a whopping 42% since 2019.
  • In 2021 the average online donation was $204
  • 28% of online gifts came from a mobile device. 
  • 66%: The percentage of online donors who will stay with you long-term if they make it after the first year of giving

These trends are telling us what we all already knew to be true: people are getting more comfortable with online giving, and it seems to be growing every year and has accelerated through the pandemic.

What should you do?

Fight the urge to repurpose your campaigns

The days where digital campaigns were repurposed from direct mail campaigns should be long gone. Take the time to think through the medium, the message, the ask and the donor journey through an online lens.

Try not to look at your digital campaigns as only name acquisitions to use other methods to cultivate. For the great majority of people who discover you online, digital is their preferred method of communication. Having a digital journey mapped out for them makes the most sense.

Make the donation path simple

If I can buy just about anything on Amazon with one click, why should I have to go through seven screens to donate? And that’s not an exaggeration. I tried to donate to a nonprofit and finally gave up at screen number seven.

Any eCommerce business knows that getting people to their shopping cart is only one-third of the battle. Statistically, 70% of all shopping carts are abandoned during check out.

Make sure your donation page is streamlined and straightforward. And don’t be fooled by web developers that say it’s too difficult or expensive to simplify it. After all, donations are the lifeline of nonprofits and churches.

Create a digital donor journey

As you think through the donor experience with your organization, think of a completely digital journey. Even if you have a physical presence, like a horse rescue or a homeless shelter, most of your online donors might never set foot in your property.

Interestingly, even churches have realized that some of their contributors are online attendees and might never attend a local service; however, they are contributing to the vision and mission.

Understanding this growing dynamic and planning for engagement in the digital realm will make a big difference in retention. Remember, if an online donor stays with you for the first year, 66% of them will remain with you for the long term.

Consider starting a sustainer program

One-time gifts are great, but ongoing donations will sustain you for the long term. I recently rescued a horse and adopted him. I was thinking about some of the nonprofits that rescue animals every day. While there’s an adoption cost, the most expensive cost is the ongoing fees to feed, care and board these animals until they can be adopted, some of which might take months.

Converting someone who gave to help rescue a horse with a one-time gift into a monthly donor is a huge benefit. Let’s say that for $100 a month, you can help feed, board and care for a neglected horse. Historically donors who stay more than one year will increase their donation year after year.

Your sustainer program could be the difference between raising money for every project or raising money for the cause. The truth is that it takes just about the same amount of effort to raise $100 as it does $1,000 or even $10,000.

While people might make a single donation for a crisis, they will stay long-term for the cause, provided you nurture their relationship.

Don’t slow down in December.

30% of your annual giving happens in the month of December. But most notable, 10% of your entire giving budget occurs in the last three days of the year!

The last three days!

I have seen many nonprofits shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. While operations might close or slow down, fundraising should be at its most active.

If you are an executive director, a development officer or a founder, take your vacation after the first of the year. Think of how much another 10 -15% of income could mean to your organization. If you have a million-dollar budget, that’s another $100,000 in revenue! Is that worth your time? Of course!

This is the ideal time to start planning your end-of-the-year fundraising. Make sure you develop an online giving journey, optimize your donation page and think through a sustainer program and how you are going to make that extra push in the last days of the year.

It's never too early to start planning your end-of-year fundraising strategy.

If you need help with new donors, download our FREE resource New Donor Welcome Kit:

Digital Growth Strategies