Charities Increasingly Benefiting From Online Donations

In addition to being a banner year for charities, 2007 saw more people making gifts online, a trend that has some organizations rethinking how they should reach out to potential donors, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

According to the Giving USA Foundation, U.S. charitable giving reached $306 billion in 2007, a 3.9 percent increase over the previous year and the first time in history that it exceeded $300 billion. And while online giving accounts for a small percentage of the total, giving via the Internet has grown rapidly, from $250 million in 2000 to an estimated $6.9 billion in 2006, according to the ePhilanthropy Foundation.

One of the beneficiaries of the trend is Campus Crusade for Christ International, which raised $33 million online last year, roughly triple what it raised a year earlier, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey. But while point-and-click technology is making it easier for people to give, some of the nation's largest charities, including the United Way of America, have seen only modest gains in online donations — in part, say experts, because many of them have been slow to embrace or aggressively market their Web sites as a platform for giving.

Still, the trend is not likely to fade. The average online contributor to Campus Crusade, for instance, is fifty years old, suggesting that even people who didn't grow up with the Internet are increasingly comfortable with online transactions. Indeed, several organizations, including the Polk County SPCA, have reported that online giving is starting to catch on with older, more affluent individuals, although the practice is still more common among individuals in their twenties. "As the younger generation settles into their communities, they're not going to be carrying checkbooks," said Peter Rudden, director of marketing for online donation company Qgiv, "they're going to be [transacting] online."

Eric Para. "Internet Donations Boost Charities." Lakeland Ledger 09/01/2008.